Tigers Bombed 17-7 By Alabama

Alabama pounded Auburn pitching for 21 hits on the way to a 17-7 victory on Sunday to clinch the series win over the Tigers.

Tuscaloosa, Ala.--Thin on pitching depth coming into the weekend, the Auburn Tigers were looking for a solid outing by freshman Bradley Hendrix on Sunday against Alabama in an effort to win the series, instead it was the exact opposite as Hendrix lasted just one inning and Alabama built a 9-1 advantage after two innings on the way to a 17-7 victory.

With the loss Auburn falls to 24-21, 8-13 in SEC play, while Alabama improves to 25-21, 10-11 in league action. The Tigers now find themselves in fifth place in the Western Division with Arkansas and LSU jumping over them with series wins, LSU's coming on a sweep of South Carolina.

For Auburn it was a day to remember as Hendrix needed a quality start to give the Tigers a chance after depleting the bullpen in Saturday's loss. Instead he gave up four runs on four hits in one inning to take the loss. Coming on in relief, junior Paul Burnside didn't fare much better as he allowed four runs on two hits in two/thirds of an inning.

The only positive of the day came from sophomore Austin Hubbard. Struggling with consistency early in the year, Hubbard did a solid job on an otherwise dreadful day for the Tigers, giving up just two earned runs on nine hits in four innings. Coach Tommy Slater said Hubbard's play was one of the few bright spots for Auburn on Sunday.

"I just told Hub when he came in that this was an opportunity for him," Slater said. "He hasn't pitched a lot lately, he hasn't had an opportunity in a while. He had some opportunities earlier in the year and didn't do a very good job with those opportunities. The great thing about Hubbard and Coach (Butch) Thompson and all our pitchers is that they continue to work and get better…he competed. He did a nice job for us. Hopefully he can build on that and grow with that. Hopefully here in the last few ball games he can make a contribution."

Auburn got on the board first on Sunday, the only lead of the day for the Tigers, as Mike Bianucci and Joseph Sanders had back to back doubles in the first inning to make it 1-0. Playing without leading hitter Hunter Morris because of a sore side, Auburn was hoping to avoid a shootout, but it became very obvious in the bottom of the inning that wouldn't be the case.

Continuing his hot weekend, Josh Rutledge singled to open the game and Ross Wilson followed with a walk to bring Alex Avila to the plate. Quiet for much of the weekend, Avila came through with a double that scored two runs. Hendrix looked like he might get out of things with no more damage as he retired the next two hitters before Matt Bentley's two-run shot to right made it 4-1 Alabama. It was the start of a big day for Bentley as he homered twice and drove in six for the Crimson Tide.

Up 4-1 Alabama didn't let up with five more in the second off Burnside. A walk to Rutledge got the inning started. An infield single by Wilson and back to back walks brought Burnside's day to a short end, but Alabama would make him pay as Hubbard came on and immediately balked home a run. A triple by Tyler Odle then scored two as Alabama led 9-1.

Hubbard settled down after that as he kept Alabama scoreless until Auburn could begin to chip away at the lead in the fifth. A single by Trent Mummey and a wild pitch moved him into scoring position. Following a Bianucci infield single, Sanders singled to center field to score Mummey and make it 9-2. Following a fielder's choice on a ball hit by Brian Fletcher that allowed everyone to be safe, David Cunningham's sacrifice fly scored Bianucci to cut the lead to six. That would be it though as Kevin Patterson hit into an inning-ending double play to end the threat.

Auburn's hopes for a comeback faded in the bottom of the sixth as Alabama scored three runs to put the game away for good. The big blow came on a Rutledge single that scored two. In the seventh after the Tigers scored two runs on singles by Cunningham and Patterson, Alabama added five more runs for good measure with back to back to back home runs by Bentley, Odle and Jake Smith to firmly slam the door on Auburn‘s faint hopes. The Tigers added two runs in the eighth on a double by Mummey, but it was much too little and much too late as Alabama shut the door in the ninth for the win.

The Tigers return to action Tuesday night against Troy in Auburn in a game slated for a 6 p.m. start. Next weekend Auburn faces Mississippi State in a three-game series at Plainsman Park.

"We just need to come out and play hard and continue to get after it," Slater said. "The kids are battling, they are fighting. They are disappointed as we all are to lose this series, but they'll keep fighting."

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