Tigers' Season Ends in Disappointment

Auburn beat Kentucky on Thursday and Friday in Lexington, but came up short on Saturday as they left the winning run on base.

Lexington, Ky.--Kentucky got four runs in the first inning against Auburn pitcher Bryan Woodall as the Wildcats were able to hold on for the victory, ending the season for the Tigers at 31-25 overall and 10-20 in the SEC. Like many games in the disappointing season, the Tigers showed resiliency in fighting back from an early 8-2 deficit but were unable to find a way to win when it mattered.

Auburn chipped away at the six-run deficit with two in the fifth, one in the sixth, one in the seventh and were down 8-6 heading into the ninth. Philip Stringer struck out to lead off the inning and Bruce Edwards was able to hit an 0-2 pitch into center field. Edwards advanced to third on a passed ball, which was also ball four to Luke Greinke who represented the tying run at first. Aaron Lovett then relieved tall righty Scott Green, who struck out seven Tigers in just three and a third innings.

With one away Josh Donaldson hit into a fielders choice that scored Edwards, but the tying run was still at first with Mike Bianucci coming to the plate. After falling down in the count he got a 2-2 pitch to drive and lined it into left for a single advancing Donaldson to second. Senior Andy Bennett, with a chance to tie or take the lead, fouled out to end the game.

"It kind of epitomizes this team," said Auburn head coach Tom Slater. "They never gave in and they kept battling and we had a chance to play to a tie with a guy at second base in the ninth inning.

"The kids played hard the entire year," Slater added. "I don't think there was any game this year where we didn't play hard. The kids played the right way and they came out ready to play all weekend long. I thought we swung the bats well all weekend and competed at the plate. We played well defensively but had a couple of miscues early today. Other than that it was a solid effort."

The Tigers played well all game except for the first inning where the Wildcats got four runs on four hits and two errors. Center fielder Antone DeJesus started the inning with a single and Brian Spear followed with an RBI double. With a chance to get things going in the right direction, Woodall quickly fielded a sacrifice bunt attempt and had time to get Spear at third but threw it away. The next batter, also the Cats best hitter Sean Coughlin, lined one up the middle to score two more and have a runner at first with one out. Mike Brown then popped up a bunt that was caught by Woodall, who threw to first for the double play but Bennett dropped the ball. Ryan Wilkes followed with a double and Tyler Howe grounded to short, but Stringer's throw pulled Bennett off the bag allowing Caughlin to score. Woodall was then able to get a strikeout and a fly out to strand Wilkes at third before further damage.

Kentucky got one more run in the second and Auburn started to get it going in the fourth with two runs. However, the Wildcats answered with three more in the bottom half to make it 8-2. Bianucci, who was three for five with three RBI hit a two-out two-run single in the fifth as Auburn cut it to 8-4 ending the day for UK starter Greg Dombrowski.

Robert Brooks cut it to 8-5 in the sixth with a solo homerun to left center, his second of the year, and Brett Butts out of the Auburn bullpen gave the Tigers a chance to keep chipping away. Edwards scored in the seventh after leading off the inning with a double just inside the line then advancing to third on a passed ball and coming around on a wild pitch as Auburn pulled to within 8-6.

Butts got in trouble in the bottom of the seventh as Kentucky had runners at first and second with one out when DeJesus hit a single to right field. Bianucci, who was playing right in the finale in order to get senior Ryan Stanley in the lineup, fielded and threw across his body on a rope and hit catch Ryan Jenkins right in the mitt. McKinney appeared to beat the throw but never touched home plate and the Tigers managed to get out of the inning unscathed. Both teams went down one, two, three in the eighth before an Auburn rally fell short in the ninth.

Auburn's season is over and Kentucky, at 34-19-1 and 13-16-1 in the SEC, will await word on a possible NCAA tournament bid.

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