"Our guys competed today and this whole weekend, but it just didn't work out the way we wanted it or we had envisioned," Pawlowski said. "Give Arizona State credit. They played extremely well all weekend. They didn't beat themselves. They pitched and played defense. We walk away from here realizing that if you want to play at a championship level, a high level, we have to improve. It's certainly a wake-up call for our guys, our staff, everybody."
On the mound Sunday continued a downright awful trend for the Tigers as Jon Luke Jacobs started, but didn't make it out of the fourth inning before giving way to Grant Dayton after allowing four runs on three hits. In all three games on the weekend Auburn's starter failed to make it out of the fifth inning.
At the plate Auburn was completely shut down by the Sun Devils after breaking out early with three runs in the first two innings. Arizona State starter Jake Borup settled in to go five innings before relievers Jimmy Patterson, Jake Barrett and Jordan Swagerty finished things off. Justin Hargett led the Tigers with two hits as Auburn managed just six hits for the game.
"It seems like every game this weekend we jumped out early," Pawlowski said. "I thought we were going to get something going again here early. We jumped out 2-0 and quickly the game was tied again...I don't think we really threatened until late. We didn't have much going on offensively, but guys have to keep their heads up. It's going to be a long trip home."
Auburn once again started strong offensively as the Tigers got a leadoff single from Hargett in the first. Moving to second base on a balk, Hargett got to third on a fly ball from Creede Simpson to bring Hunter Morris to the plate. Swinging the bat well recently, Morris again delivered as his two-run homer to center field was his fourth of the season and staked Jacobs to an early 2-0 lead.
It took just one turn at bat for the Sun Devils for that lead to be erased though as a one-out walk to Zack MacPhee was all Riccio Torrez needed to tie the game as his home run tied things at two each heading to the second inning where gave Auburn would again take the lead. A leadoff walk to Tony Caldwell proved to be beneficial to the Tigers as he stole second with two outs and scored on a Ryan Jenkins double. That gave Auburn back the lead 3-2.
Not giving up much offensively, Jacobs did allow another extra-base hit in the third inning to set up the Sun Devils once again. Raoul Torrez laced a double to open the inning and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. Auburn then helped out a team that doesn't need any help as Dan Gamache dropped a pop up from Zack MacPhee to put runners on the corners with just one out. A Kole Calhoun ground ball to Hargett at second would have been the final out of the inning, but instead it scored Torrez to tie the game.
For much of his career Jacobs has struggled the second time through in the order and that was the case again on Sunday as Matt Newman led off the fourth inning with a solo home run to right field. A walk followed to bring his day to a close as Dayton came on. He got out of the inning to keep Auburn down just one, but the fifth would prove to be disaster once again for the Tigers.
Giving up six runs in the fifth on Friday night and three on Saturday, Auburn was hoping for better results on Sunday, but a leadoff single followed by a walk brought the heart of the ASU order to the plate to face Dayton. Another walk, this one to Calhoun, would signal the end of the line for Dayton as Zach Blatt entered with the bases loaded and nobody out.
Facing Riccio Torrez, Blatt got what he wanted as a ground ball to Gamache at third was thrown home for the force out. Jenkins threw to first for the attempted double play, but Torrez was ruled safe at first to keep the bases loaded. It was a big play as a Newman ground ball to second base wasn't hard enough for the Tigers to turn two, allowing a run to score. Back-to-back singles followed to score two more and just like that Arizona State led 7-3.
The Sun Devils added a single run in the sixth inning to cushion their lead, but it was pitching that was the difference on Sunday as the Tigers managed just one after the second inning until a single by Hargett in the top of the eighth inning. That followed Jenkins reaching on an error to put Auburn in business, but the flamethrower Barrett was having none of that as he came back to strike out Simpson and Morris before Justin Bryant hit a fly ball to end the inning and the Auburn threat.
Auburn will return to action Tuesday night as the Tigers face Alabama A&M in the first of two mid-week games against the Bulldogs with the second coming on Wednesday. Both are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at Plainsman Park.