The loss drops Auburn to 22-16 on the season while South Alabama improves to 21-16 with its second win this year over the Tigers.
Facing a South Alabama pitching staff with a less than impressive earned run average coming into the contest, Auburn had a terrible night at the plate with just eight hits and one run scored. Trent Mummey and David Cunningham both had two hits on the night, but Coach Tommy Slater said there were no positives on offense as far as he's concerned.
"There's not a lot of good to say about tonight offensively," he said. "It was a really bad night at the plate for Auburn. We've been so good offensively all year I would like to think it's an aberration, but it was just a really poor night offensively. South came in here with a team ERA of six, eight hits and one run, not a good night at the plate for us at all."
On the mound things weren't a whole lot better for the Tigers with the exception of starter Cory Luckie and the first reliever into the game, Bradley Hendrix. Luckie allowed two hits, but no runs in the first. Hendrix came on and pitched two perfect innings, but that's when things turned sour for the Tigers.
Over the final six innings Auburn allowed seven hits, walked three and gave up all six runs. Slater said the key was the inability to throw strikes early in the count.
"Being in the strike zone, being ahead in the count, not being behind in the count, those are all things that typically lead to balls being hit hard," Slater said. "I think if you went back and looked at a stat sheet from early in the season and looked at strikeout to walk ratio, and then went and looked at it now you would see a mighty big difference."
Following two scoreless innings, Auburn finally threatened in the bottom of the third. With one out Justin Hargett singled just over the glove of South Alabama second baseman Ryne Jerigan into right field. Following a Mike Bianucci strikeout, Hunter Morris hit a screamer that first baseman Ryan Bohanon snared for out number three.
After two strong innings from Hendrix in relief, Auburn went to Luke Greinke in the top of the fourth and the junior struggled from the outset. Clint Toomey walked to lead things off and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Another walk, this one to David Doss, brought Jernigan to the plate. South Alabama's leading power hitter, Jernigan put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up. A sacrifice fly from Bohanon scored Toomey, but that would be it as Greinke got the final out to keep the Jaguar damage to just one run.
Auburn answered back in the bottom of the inning as left fielder Brian Fletcher led off with a triple. Taking a pitch the other way, Fletcher's slice into right field caromed off the grandstands and into the corner. Kevin Patterson then did his job with a ground ball that scored Fletcher to tie the game at one.
Redshirt freshman David Cunningham slides into second for one of his two hits.
Taylor Thompson came on to pitch a scoreless fifth and sixth inning before the Jaguars got to him in the seventh. Leading off, Bohanon ripped a double off the wall in left field to bring pinch hitter Ryan McCrory to the plate. The big lefty jumped on a pitch and drove it over the right field wall for a two-run homer. The blast gave South Alabama a 3-1 advantage, but the Jags weren't done as Bunky Kateon matched him with a shot over the wall in left. Kateon's fourth home run of the season made it 4-1 South Alabama.
That was all for Thompson as Scott Shuman came on with still nobody out and got Chris Davis on a ground ball before walking number nine hitter Jake Overstreet. That was all for Shuman as Evan Crawford came on with a pair of lefties due up, but he fared no better as he allowed back to back singles. Before the inning was done the Jaguars added three runs to the lead and took a commanding 7-1 advantage into the bottom of the seventh.
Auburn threatened in the ninth inning as the Tigers loaded the bases with just one out, but Mummey hit into a game-ending double play that was a fitting end to a futile night for the Auburn offense. Auburn struck out seven times, walked just four, and left nine runners on base in the loss.
For South Alabama Ray Kruml had three hits to lead the way while Doss and McCrory each had two of the nine hits for the Jaguars. Reliever Michael Raia (1-0) earned the win while Thompson (2-4) took the loss.
Auburn returns to action this weekend at Vanderbilt for a three-game series against the Commodores. Game times for the series are 6 p.m. on Friday, noon on Saturday in a game televised by CSS, and 1 p.m. on Sunday.