Pitching was the story in this one as Nelson allowed six runs in just two and one/thirds innings before he gave way to Bradley Hendrix and the junior was roughed up as well, allowing six runs on six hits in just three and one/third innings to put Auburn in a hole too deep to crawl out of. At the plate Justin Hargett had three hits to lead an 11-hit attack for the Tigers as they once again swung the bat well early, but couldn't sustain it in the loss.
"Offensively I thought we were pretty good in the early part of the game," Coach John Pawlowski said. "We jumped out early and scored three runs. In the second inning I thought we had some quality at-bats early in the game. From that point on offensively we couldn't really get anything going. They pitched extremely well after that point. We scored three and then went out and gave up four. It's tough for our club. They beat us in every phase of the game today. We were not very good today. We tried different guys out there. They have a solid club and put the ball in play. It was one of those tough games."
Things started out well for Auburn as they got on the board quickly in the first inning. Leading off, Hargett singled and quickly moved around to third on a double by Creede Simpson. A walk to Hunter Morris loaded the bases with nobody out for Brian Fletcher, but it wasn't to be his night as he struck out for out number one. Auburn responded though as Casey McElroy and Tony Caldwell had back-to-back singles, the second scoring two runs, to give the Tigers a 3-0 advantage.
The Sun Devils wasted little time introducing themselves to Nelson in the bottom of the first as Drew Maggi drew a walk to get things going. That set the stage for trouble as three doubles in the inning sandwiched around a walk to Riccio Torrez put four runs on the board to give the home team a 4-3 lead after one inning.
Showing no signs of stress, Auburn came back to strike again in the second. Playing third base, Dan Gamache reached on an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Jenkins. Hargett's second hit of the night put a pair of runners on base with one out for Simpson, but a strikeout brought Morris to the plate with two outs. Getting a pitch to drive, Morris hit it over the right field wall for his third home run of the season. The blast gave Auburn a 6-4 advantage, but unfortunately things would be all downhill from that point forward.
Auburn's most dominant pitcher to this point in 2010, Nelson would last just one out into the third inning before giving way to Hendrix as a walk to Johnny Ruettiger was followed by a two-run homer off the bat of Xorge Carrillo. Giving up six runs in just two and one/third, Nelson could never find it and Pawlowski said they just decided to make the early move.
"This environment, this is why we do it," Pawlowski said. "You have to get used to playing in front of big crowds against good teams on the road. This will be a learning lesson not only for him, but for our whole club. This is why we do this."
The move didn't pay off as Hendrix came on and allowed six runs in just three and one/third innings as the Sun Devils took a 10-6 lead after five innings thanks to a three-run fifth featuring a costly error by the Tigers. Back to back singles by Arizona State put them in business before a ground ball to Gamache was thrown away at first. The error allowed a run to score and put runners on second and third with nobody out. A groundout and sacrifice fly plated two more runs to put ASU up four.
Auburn got a run back in the sixth as a Gamache single scored McElroy from third base with two outs to bring the Tigers back to within striking distance at 10-7. It was all Arizona State after that though as they scored two in the sixth to make it 12-7 before reliever Stephen Kohlscheen finally got out of the inning.
Arizona State scored the final four runs in the eighth inning, all off reliever Justin Bryant. Auburn's starting shortstop to open the year and moving to third base when McElroy returned, Bryant finally got his first chance on the mound and the Sun Devils responded with four hits and four runs to finish off the Tigers for good.
Looking to salvage a win on Sunday, Auburn will throw either left-hander Grant Dayton or right-hander Jon Luke Jacobs against the Sun Devils on Sunday. First pitch for the game is scheduled for 3 p.m. central time.