For Auburn it was a uncharacteristic struggle for freshman starter Cory Luckie. In five and two/third innings Luckie allowed seven earned runs on nine hits and walked a season-high four batters. Luckie falls to 4-4 on the season as Auburn drops to 22-17 overall and 6-10 in SEC play. Vanderbilt improves to 27-10, 9-6 in league play.
Auburn had a chance to jump on the board first on Saturday as Hunter Morris led off the second with a double and Brian Fletcher followed with a walk to give the Tigers two runners on with nobody out, but once again a base running problem cost the Tigers. With David Cunningham at the plate Auburn looked to have a good chance to move the runners up, but two failed bunt attempts were followed up by a strikeout. To compound the problem Fletcher was picked off first base for a double play. Kevin Patterson's ground ball brought the top of the second to a close with the game still tied.
The Commodores didn't waste an opportunity in the bottom of the inning as a one-out single by Dominic de la Osa and a two-out walk set the table for Shea Robin as he continued his hot weekend with a single to center field. De la Osa scored on the play to make it 1-0 Vanderbilt. Things remained that way until the fourth when Flaherty led off the inning with a triple, but Luckie buckled down to escape without giving up a run.
With Cotham dominating the Tigers on the mound, the Commodores came back for more in the fifth. Uncharacteristically struggling with his control, Luckie hit Jonathan White to open the inning. Moving to second on a sacrifice bunt, White stole third and stayed there with a walk to Alex Feinberg to bring Pedro Alvarez to the plate. One of the nation's best players, Alvarez continued his struggles against Luckie with a strikeout. Unfortunately for Luckie Flaherty wasn't having the same problems as he doubled to left to score two and make it 3-0 Commodores.
Auburn finally got some offense against Cotham in the top of the sixth as Matt Hall's one-out single up the middle was just the third hit of the day for the Tigers. Moving to second on a Trent Mummey groundout, Hall scored on a Justin Hargett single to center field. Now trailing just 3-1, the Tigers were right back in the game, but only for a moment.
Facing Andrew Giobbi to start the sixth, Luckie gave up a double on the first pitch to get right back in trouble. Following a ground ball to short that moved the runner to third, Robin again delivered as his single scored Giobbi to make it 4-1 Vanderbilt. A sacrifice bunt moved Robin to second with two outs, but Luckie's fourth walk of the game brought Feinberg to the plate with runners on second and third and tied his total for walks in SEC play for the entire season. A single by Feinberg followed by an Alvarez double scored three more and just like that Auburn trailed 7-1.
Reliever Michael Hurst came on to pitch a perfect one and one/third innings of relief on just 12 pitches, but the Commodores added another run in the eighth off Evan Crawford with back to back doubles with two outs to make it 8-1. Auburn added a run in the top of the ninth as Ben Jones doubled after coming in for Mike Bianucci and scored on a Morris single. That would be all as reliever Sean Bieman came on in the ninth to shut the door on the Tigers.
At the plate Morris led the way for Auburn with two of just seven hits on the day. Vanderbilt had four different players with two hits and four with two RBI as they totaled 11 hits on the day.
Auburn and Vanderbilt will resume game one of the series Saturday afternoon as the Tigers hold a 5-3 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. The game was delayed by rain on Friday night.