Tigers Drop Series Finale To Gators

Auburn dropped the final game of a three-game series against Florida on Sunday by a score of 5-1.

Auburn, Ala.--It has been a year of feast or famine for the Auburn baseball Tigers with home runs coming in bunches, but also struggles on the mound. Unfortunately Sunday's outing against the Florida Gators was of the famine variety as Auburn's pitchers walked 11 Gators and the Tigers went without a home run for the second consecutive game in a 5-1 loss.

After winning the series opener, Auburn dropped the final two games of the series to fall to 23-12 overall and 7-8 in SEC play. Florida improves to 23-12, 9-6 in league action. Auburn coach John Pawlowski said while the pitching again had problems, it was the lack of offense that doomed his team.

"I thought early in the game we walked quite a few guys,"Pawlowski said. "Taylor (Thompson) kept battling and battling. He kept the game close. I thought Bradley Hendrix did a great job for us. He gave us a shot. I thought the difference in the second game yesterday and then today was offensively. They pitch extremely well and we didn't have many quality at-bats. We couldn't get anything going. Consequently I thought that was the difference."

Getting the Sunday start, Taylor Thompson gave up three runs on three hits in three and one/third innings, but walked six batters to set a career high. Hendrix gave the Tiger four solid innings, allowing just one earned run, while Austin Hubbard allowed one run on one hit in one and two/thirds innings.

After escaping a jam in the first without giving up a run, Thompson wouldn't be as fortunate in the second. With one out Buddy Munroe singled and moved to second on a single by Teddy Foster. A walk to Mike Mooney then loaded the bases for leadoff man Matt den Dekker. A ground ball to second base forced out the runner at second, but Munroe scored to put the Gators on the board.

Auburn finally got things going in the third inning as a one-out single by Justin Hargett was followed up by a double from Trent Mummey just inside the first base bag. Joseph Sanders then cranked a ball into the wind to left field. Held up just enough by the wind, the ball was caught by Avery Barnes, but Hargett scored on the play to tie the game at one.

Florida would get that run back and more in the fourth, but a great play by Ben Jones kept it from being a huge inning. With one out Mooney again walked, the first of three consecutive walks by Thompson to end his day. Coming on, Hendrix struck out Barnes before freshman sensation Preston Tucker singled up the middle to score two runs. It was the sixth consecutive two-RBI game for Tucker.

Things could have been much worse for the Tigers though as Brandon McArthur ripped a pitch deep to right center that looked like it would score two more runs. Never slowing down, Jones made a diving grab in the gap to end the threat and keep it 3-1 Gators.

That's how things would stay until Auburn again made a move on offense in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs and nobody on Casey McElroy singled up the middle and Hargett followed with a single to put runners on first and third with two outs for Mummey. This time he couldn't deliver though as his ground ball brought the inning to a close still down by two.

Auburn's bullpen has been a struggle all season and it came to a head in the top of the eighth. Another walk to Mooney, his third of the day, and a sacrifice bunt brought Hendrix's day to a close with Hubbard coming on in relief. Getting behind 3-1, Hubbard grooved a pitch over the middle that Daniel Pigott deposited over the left field wall for a home run. It was his second homer of the season and put Florida up 5-1.

That's how things would end as Auburn now has to regroup with two mid-week games against South Alabama before hitting the road to South Carolina next weekend. Pawlowski said it's important for his team to take the good and the bad and move forward.

"We're at the halfway point," Pawlowski said. "We play 30 conference games and we're at 15 right now. We need to take the 15 that we've played and take the positives and negatives and learn from that. Then go into these next 15 it's not going to be any easier."

Auburn will travel to Mobile Tuesday night with the Jaguars making the return trip on Wednesday. Both games are scheduled for 6 p.m. starts.

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