Rebels Sweep AU, Tourney Chances Fading

Auburn is two and a half games behind eighth-place Vanderbilt and one game behind next week's opponent Kentucky in the SEC standings.

Auburn, Ala.--What was once an uphill battle for the Auburn Tigers has now turned into Mount Everest after Sunday's 11-4 loss to Ole Miss completed a sweep for the Rebels.

Now 27-22 on the season and 8-16 in league play, Auburn is two and a half games behind Vanderbilt for eighth place in the standings and one game behind Kentucky for ninth. Swept for the third time this season and the second consecutive week, Auburn finds itself on the outside looking in for the SEC Tournament in Hoover.

"You make the SEC Tournament by avoiding sweeps," Pawlowski said. "This is a tough weekend for us. Obviously Ole Miss has a great club. I really like that club. They can do some damage in the postseason. They've got enough arms and they know how to handle the bat."

The story of the day was again the middle innings for the Tigers. Starter Dexter Price allowed four runs on nine hits in four innings, but it was Auburn's top two relievers that had problems on Sunday. Closer Austin Hubbard came on the fifth and allowed three runs on five hits in one inning of work. Bradley Hendrix came on and gave up two runs on two hits in an inning while Ty Kelley finished off the game, allowing two unearned runs on three hits in two and two/thirds innings.

At the plate Brian Fletcher, Tony Caldwell and Dan Gamache each had two hits for the Tigers, part of an 11-hit day that produced just four runs. For Ole Miss Logan Power supplied the power with a 5-6 day and give RBI to become the Rebels' all-time RBI man for a career.

In a surprise move the Rebels sent left-hander Brett Vukvich to the mound although stud Scott Bittle was listed as a starter. That meant Ole Miss would be without the services of Bittle for the day because of a sore bicep , but it wouldn't matter as Bukvich silenced the Tigers through the first four innings letting his offense take control.

Price started and held up well before the Rebels finally got on the board in the third inning. Leading off Kevin Mort singled and moved to third on a infield single by Evan Button that Gamache threw away at first. Jordan Henry grounded into a double play, but Mort scored from third for the first run of the game.

That's how things would remain until the fifth when Ole Miss began to break the game open. Leading off once again, Mort singled and Button followed with a single of his own to put runners on first and second. Attempting to bunt the runners over, Henry was walked to load the bases and end the day for Price.

Hubbard came in, but it didn't slow down the Ole Miss offense as Power singled to left to score two. Following a walk to Matt Snyder, Matt Smith singled to score two more runs and just like that Auburn trailed 5-0. Pawlowski said it was the game time in his mind and he went with his best, but it just didn't work out.

"We were in the ballgame and in the fifth inning we couldn't get out of trouble," Pawlowski said. "We have our best reliever and you don't want to go deep into the game and deep into the weekend without using your best guy. You figure you'll bring him in and keep it close. The game got out of hand a little bit there and they scored some more late."

Auburn finally got the Bukvich in the fifth as Fletcher led off with a single. Following a Bradley Ray strikeout, Caldwell singled up the middle to move Fletcher into scoring position with one out. After Gamache popped up for the second out, Trent Mummey's single up the middle scored Fletcher to put the Tigers on the board. Justin Hargett then hit a ground ball in the hole over second base.

Hustling on the play, Mummey beat the throw to second and Caldwell came all the way around to score the second run. Ben Jones continued the two-out rally as he singled to left to score Mummey and make it 5-3 Ole Miss. A Hunter Morris flyout brought the inning to a close, but Ole Miss would answer back to close the door on the Tigers, adding two runs in both the sixth and seventh to extend the lead to 9-2.

Auburn got one back in the bottom of the seventh as Gamache singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, he scored on a Hargett fly ball to cut the lead down to six. That's as close as the Tigers would come though as after a nearly one-hour rain delay in the bottom of the ninth inning, closer Jake Morgan slammed the door on Auburn by striking out Hargett to end the game. The strikeout was the sixth on the day for the Tigers and tied the school record of 416 in a season set in 2004 and 2005.

The Tigers don't play a mid-week game this week and will return to action next weekend when they travel to face the Kentucky Wildcats in a three-game series in Lexington.

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