Missed Opportunities As LSU Sweeps Auburn

Auburn left 14 runners on base as the Tigers fell to LSU 7-6 to get swept for the second time this season.

Baton Rouge, La.--For the second consecutive day the Auburn Tigers squandered several opportunities to knock off LSU as they fell 7-6 on Sunday to complete a sweep at the hands of the Bengal Tigers. Despite a 5-5 day from freshman shortstop Casey McElroy and a solid outing by freshman pitcher Dexter Price, Auburn left 14 runners on base in the loss.

Auburn falls to 25-19, 8-13 in SEC play while sixth-ranked LSU improves to 33-12 overall and 14-7 in league action. Coach John Pawlowski said while there were some positives, the lack of production in the clutch hurt his team time and time again in the loss on Sunday.

"I thought Dexter did a good job for us," Pawlowski said. "He kept his composure for us being on the road in his first SEC start. I saw some real positives out there. He competed real well. I thought he did a good job. Casey has been pretty steady all year and played really good defense this weekend too.

"Obviously we're disappointed when you go on the road and lose three games," he added. "We just didn't hit in the clutch. We had no situational hitting. We really struggled when we needed a big hit. Unfortunately that's the ballgame."

In both the fifth and sixth inning, Auburn left the bases loaded while LSU came up big in the clutch on several occasions. That was the difference between winning and losing not only on Sunday, but the entire weekend.

"We had the bases loaded a couple of times with the middle guys in our order up and weren't able to manufacture one run," Pawlowski said. "We had a couple of big strikeouts just when we didn't need them. When they needed to make a pitch, they made a pitch. When they needed to make a play, they made a play. Give them credit they were certainly better than us this weekend."

With the loss Auburn remains in ninth place in the SEC, a game behind South Carolina for eighth place. The Gamecocks were swept on the road at Florida and are currently 9-12 in SEC play. The big winner of the weekend was Vanderbilt as the Commodores swept Mississippi State in Nashville to improve to 10-10 in SEC play.

LSU struck first on Sunday as Mikie Mahtook singled with one out in the second off Price. Micah Gibbs followed with a walk to bring Buzzy Haydel to the plate. His single scored Mahtook and following a hit batter, Ryan Schimpf's ground ball scored Gibbs to make it 2-0 LSU.

Auburn answered right back in the third inning as McElroy's two-out single brought Hunter Morris to the plate. Looking dead red, Morris got a first-pitch fastball and drove it over the wall in right field for a two-run homer. It was his 12th of the season and tied the game at two.

That's how things would remain until the top of the fifth when Auburn jumped on top for the only time on the day. Leading off, Trent Mummey singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Justin Hargett. McElroy again singled, this time to left, to put runners on the corners with one out. LSU brought on reliever Paul Bertuccinni and he struck out Morris, but a walk to Ben Jones loaded the bases. Auburn then got some good fortune as Brian Fletcher was hit by a pitch and Wes Gilmer walked to push across two runs and put the visiting Tigers in front 4-2.

This time it was LSU's turn to answer and they did that in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the fifth. With one out Jared Mitchell singled and Blake Dean followed with a walk. That would be all for Price as Hendrix came on. He struck out D. J. LeMahieu for out number two, but gave up a three-run homer to Tyler Hanover to put LSU back in front. They weren't done though as Mahtook singled, stole second, and scored on a Gibbs double to make it 6-4 LSU.

Again Auburn threatened as consecutive singles by Mummey, Hargett and McElroy with one out brought the heart of the order to the plate in the sixth. Getting a 1-0 pitch, Morris popped to for out number two before a Jones flyout to left field ended the threat.

LSU manufactured a run in the bottom of the sixth as Mitchell hit a liner into center field. Never slowing down, he took advantage of some lackadaisical play by Auburn to turn it into a double. Following a walk to Dean, LeMahieu singled to score Mitchell and push the LSU lead to 7-4 going to the seventh.

With chance after chance to get back into things, Auburn finally succeeded in the eighth thanks to Fletcher. Again it was the top of the order that set the table as Mummey was hit by a pitch and Hargett walked to set the table for McElroy. Delivering his fifth hit of the day, McElroy singled sharply to left to load the bases with still nobody out.

Deciding enough was enough, LSU went to the bullpen and brought on sophomore Chad Jones. Better known for his football prowess, Jones came on for his first career appearance on the mound and struck out Morris and Jones before giving way to closer Matt Ott. Dominant in his first two appearances of the weekend, Ott wasn't this time as Fletcher laced a single to right field to score both Mummey and Hargett and cut the lead down to just one. Gilmer struck out to end the threat with Auburn trailing 7-6.

The visitors had one more chance in the ninth as Kevin Patterson walked to lead things off and was replaced by pinch runner Chezz McCann. Following a Bradley Ray sacrifice bunt, Mummey was hit by a pitch to bring Hargett to the plate. Jumping on the first pitch, Hargett hit a sharp ground ball right at the LSU second baseman. He made the easy flip to second for the first out and the throw to first completed the double play to secure the win and the sweep.

Auburn returns to action this week for two games against Troy on Tuesday and Wednesday before taking on Ole Miss at Plainsman Park for a three-game series beginning Friday.

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