It was a tough day for Auburn starter Chris Dennis. Bothered all season long by nagging injuries Dennis again struggled as he allowed eight hits and nine runs in three and two/thirds innings to get the loss. Coach Tommy Slater said that shaky defense early put his team in a hole they couldn't dig themselves out of against a quality Ole Miss team.
"They were good today and we weren't real good," Slater said. "We had some individuals that played okay. We had some guys with some good at-bats. I thought Paul Burnside threw the ball well for us out of the bullpen. The bottom line was they were better than us today and it wasn't a real good outing for the Tigers.
"We make an error early in that inning (the second) on a routine ground ball and that hurts," he added. "It puts pitches into a guy. Then it was hard to stop the bleeding there. I thought Chris actually pitched better today than he has in about three weeks. His linescore is not very good, but one thing we can build on with Chris is that we were able to get him out there and get his pitch count up for the first time in about three weeks. I thought he made some good pitches, but we have to make some plays behind him."
The lone bright spot on the day for the Tigers was the pitching of true freshman reliever Paul Burnside. Having given up just two hits and no earned runs in six and one/third innings of SEC work this season, Burnside again was very good for Auburn. In three and a third innings he gave up four hits and no runs. Slater said that Burnside's work on the mound recently may mean additional work for the Montgomery native.
"Paul was solid," Slater said. "He didn't have his change-up today which he had last week. His fastball and slider were good enough. He competes. He did a good job once again. I was proud of Paul. He is going to factor into a lot of innings for us before this year is over."
It didn't take long for Ole Miss to assert its dominance on Sunday afternoon as the Rebels pounded Dennis for six runs in the second inning to virtually put the game away before it barely got started. Leading off the inning Zack Cozart singled up the middle to get things going. An error by Tyler Johnstone at second on a ground ball by Alex Presley then proceeded to open the floodgates for the Rebels.
Following a hit batsman, Jon Jon Hancock singled to score the game's first run. A sacrifice fly followed along with a single by Evan Button that scored the game's third run. Another walk by Dennis again loaded the bases for C.J. Ketchum, who ground out to Justin Bristow to score Hancock and make it 4-0 Ole Miss. Chris Coghlan finished the scoring with a two-run single that put the Rebels up comfortably at 6-0 after just two innings of play.
The Rebels added a single run in the third before Auburn finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth inning off Ole Miss starter Lance Lynn. With one out in the inning catcher Josh Donaldson just missed a home run off the left field wall. He managed to cruise into second with his 14th double of the season. Following a groundout by Luke Greinke, Jeff Boutwell ripped a triple into right-center that scored Donaldson to get Auburn on the board.
That would be as close as the Tigers would come the rest of the way though as Ole Miss added two runs off Dennis in the fourth before Burnside came on to finish off the inning. The freshman did his job as he kept the Rebels scoreless for three innings before turning things over to reliever Peter Wiggins in the eighth. Ole Miss immediately added three runs off the junior to finish out the scoring and put Auburn away 12-1 to win the series.
Auburn finished the day with just seven hits and no player had more than one while in contrast Ole Miss pounded out 14 hits against the Tigers' pitching with five players having at least two hits on the afternoon.
Following a full weekend of baseball in the league that saw several games get delayed or postponed because of bad weather, several teams made big moves over the weekend in the league. The biggest came from SEC West leader Alabama. For the second consecutive weekend the Crimson Tide took two of three from the nation's number one team, this time at South Carolina, to continue their stellar play through four weeks. The following are the up-to-date standings in the league: