Sanders Injured As Tigers Fall To Samford

Auburn fell 8-2 to Samford, but that wasn't close to the worst news of the night for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Samford starting pitcher Kyle Putkonen entered Tuesday night's game with a 2-2 record and an ERA of 11.52. Against Auburn however he played the part of Greg Maddux as he allowed just two runs on two hits in seven innings and struck out a career high eight batters in an 8-2 Samford victory.

With the loss Auburn falls to 25-16 while Samford improves to 15-26 overall.

While the loss was disappointing, the big news of the night was of the bad variety as junior Joseph Sanders was hit in the face by a pitch in the first inning and suffered a broken jaw. Leading Auburn in home runs, RBI, batting average and doubles, Sanders will likely be out at least three weeks and coach John Pawlowski said it's a tough blow for Sanders and the entire team.

"You feel so bad for him," Pawlowski said. "He's having a great year and one pitch puts him in a tough spot. You just feel so bad for him. He's going to have to battle back from it. Just a very tough situation."

Surgery for Sanders could come as early as Thursday. He's scheduled to be evaluated more closely by Auburn's doctors before a final decision on when his surgery will take place is decided on.

With Sanders out of the lineup sophomore Wes Gilmer took his place and went 0-2 on the night. Gilmer could get a look permanently at third base with Sanders out, but Chez McCann and Dan Gamache could see time there as well.

The injury was the worst part of a terrible night for the Tigers as they gave up 16 hits and got just two against the Bulldogs, both solo home runs. After a solid start in his last outing, senior Paul Burnside didn't have it Tuesday night as he allowed four earned runs on seven hits in four and one/third innings to take the loss. All four runs came in the first two innings as the senior settled down before giving way to Sean Ray in the fifth.

Coach John Pawlowski said it was a rough start for his team all the way around as the Tigers never got anything going offensively and it just mushroomed in the loss.

"It was the most non-competitive game we've played all year," Pawlowski said. "Non-competitive from a standpoint offensively. We didn't compete at the plate. We competed in spots on the mound. I'm just disappointed in our effort. We didn't do anything today that would even give us a remote chance at a win tonight. We just weren't competitive and that falls squarely on everybody, not one person and not one player. Everybody needs to take responsibility for this."

Samford got things going in the first as with a runner on and one out, David Schulze singled to put two for the Bulldogs. Following a wild pitch, Bo Smith walked to load the bases for Trey Hayes. Getting a pitch to drive, Hayes tripled to right-center to score all three runs. He entered the game hitting just .245 for the season.

The Bulldogs extended the lead to four in the second as Michael Johnson tripled to lead off the inning as his fly ball to left field was lost in the sun by Brian Fletcher. Catcher Brad Moss then did his job with a sacrifice fly to center field to make it 4-0 Samford.

Auburn got one run back in the bottom of the second as shortstop Casey McElroy took a pitch the opposite way and over the wall for a solo home run. It was his sixth homer of the season and the Tigers' first hit of the game.

That's how things would stay until the bottom of the sixth when the long ball would again pay dividends for Auburn.. With one out, first baseman Hunter Morris got a 2-2 pitch down the middle and drove it deep for his 10th home run of the season. That cut the lead down to 4-2, but just as quickly the Bulldogs would open the lead back to four.

With reliever Bradley Hendrix in the game, Smith singled to lead off the seventh to bring Hayes back to the plate. Jumping all over the first pitch he saw, Hayes drilled his sixth home run over the left field wall. Entering the game with just 21 RBI, that was number four and five for Hayes on the night.

Samford added two more runs in the eighth inning on a two RBI single by Joe Durham off Zach Blatt in the eighth inning.

For the game second baseman Stephen Ballard had four hits to lead Samford with four more players having at least two hits. Auburn had just two hits and struck out a combined 13 times.

Auburn will take to the road this weekend to face the LSU Tigers in a three-game series at the new Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge. Game times are 7 p.m. on Friday, 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.


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