Once again it was missed opportunities that hurt Auburn in the Saturday loss. Last week at LSU the Tigers left 14 runners on base in a Sunday loss. This time around Auburn scored just two runs despite 13 hits, leaving 11 runners on base in the process. Coach John Pawlowski said his team had chances, but just couldn't get the job done.
"You look at the totals on the board and Ole Miss (35-13, 15-8) had 14 hits and I think we had 13 hits, but you look at when their hits came," Pawlowski said. "They came with guys in scoring position. We had some crucial strikeouts. I thought the whole tone was set in the first inning."
Auburn looked to break the game open in the bottom of the first as Trent Mummey and Justin Hargett singled before Ben Jones was hit by a pitch to load the bases with nobody out. Irwin settled down to get Hunter Morris and Brian Fletcher on strikes before Casey McElroy walked to force home the game's first run.
After a scoreless first, Ole Miss came back with a single run to tie the game in the second. Back to back singles with two outs by Kevin Mort and Tim Ferguson put some pressure on Auburn starter Grant Dayton. He followed with a walk Brett Bashum to load the bases and a wild pitch scored Mort to make it 1-1.
Kevin Patterson doubled to open the second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Dan Gamache followed with a fly ball to left field to put Auburn back in front. The Tigers threatened for more as Hargett singled and stole second to move into scoring position for Jones. Getting a pitch to drive, he lifted it to deep left field where Logan Power tracked it down to save a run and end the inning.
Leading off, Power singled to left field and came around to score on a two-run home run by Matt Smith. It was his fifth of the season and put the Rebels up 3-2. With the bases cleared Kyle Henson singled to get things started again. Dayton recovered to get the next two outs before Mort singled and Ferguson followed with a triple. Basham struck out to end the inning, but not before Ole Miss built a 5-2 lead.
Auburn again threatened in the bottom of the third as Fletcher, McElroy and Tony Caldwell all singled to load the bases with just one out to bring Patterson to the plate. Continuing a trend that has lasted the entire season, the sophomore hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play to keep the lead at three for the Rebels.
The lead would grow to four in the fourth as Power tripled with one out and scored on a double by Smith. That was the end of the day for Dayton as Hendrix came on to get the final two outs in the fourth, but it was too little and too late on this day as the Rebels added a single run in the fifth and wouldn't score again until a solo homer by Matt Snyder in the ninth after a fantastic outing by reliever Michael Hurst. He allowed just one run in three and two/thirds innings to keep the Tigers in the game.
Dayton was the loser on Saturday night, giving up six runs on eight hits in three and one/third innings. Hendrix allowed a run on three hits in two innings of work. For Ole Miss Irwin allowed two runs on seven hits in two and one/third while reliever Nathan Baker got the win, giving up six hits and no runs in four and two/thirds. David Goforth pitched the final two scoreless innings for the Rebels.
On the night Ole Miss pitchers struck out 11 Auburn hitters, bringing the total on the season to 410 for the Tigers. That is just six away from the team record of 416 set in both 2004 and 2005. Pawlowski said despite the record amount of home runs his team has hit this season, the approach at the plate has to get better for his team.
"It's a concern," Pawlowski said. "There are several things to evaluate. One is obviously the high rate of strikeouts we have. In my opinion we need to continue to teach a better philosophy of putting the ball in play and cutting down our swings."
For Auburn on Saturday Hargett and McElroy led the way with three hits each while Mummey and Patterson added two hits apiece. Ole Miss was led by Ferguson's three hits and three RBI.
Coach John Pawlowski gives his daughter Mary Louise a hug during a special ceremony honoring her Saturday night.
While the game left a lot to be desired, there was still plenty of good news at Plainsman Park Saturday night as Mary Louis Pawlowski was on hand for her first baseball game at Auburn. Battling a rare form of childhood cancer and later an infection that kept her in the hospital for 93 consecutive days, Mary Louise made a game earlier this season at South Carolina and her dad said it was good to see her in Auburn for a game.
"I got a text message this morning that said she wanted to come to the game today," Pawlowski said. "She's been feeling better. What a great story for her to be able to get out and see her first Auburn baseball game here in Auburn. She's come so far. She's an inspiration to myself and so many other people for what she's been through.
"It's unbelievable," he added. "So many people have reached out from all walks of life. The Auburn Family, they don't even know her but they've reached out and supported her. It has touched her and the family in so many ways. There's no way I can reach out and thank everybody. I hope people know how much we appreciate what they've done for her. It means the world."
Auburn and Ole Miss play the final game of the three-game series Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. as the Tigers send true freshman Dexter Price to the mound against the dominant Scott Bittle for the Rebels. The game can be seen live on CSS.