"It doesn't matter who you play, Troy played a great ballgame today and we just couldn't overcome some of the things we did wrong," Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. "They are a good ball club and certainly deserved to win today. We had some chances and couldn't come through. We mis-handled a couple of balls and couldn't overcome the mistakes that we made."
The loss spoiled a solid pitching outing by Auburn starter Slade Smith and relievers Sean Ray and Bradley Hendrix. Smith allowed two runs on five hits in three and one/third innings while Ray allowed two unearned runs on one hit in three innings. Hendrix took the loss, allowing one unearned run on one hit in and inning and two/thirds.
"I thought he (Ray) did a good job," Pawlowski said. "I thought Slade did a good job. You can hold a team down in college baseball and hope like heck you get your bats going. Unfortunately it just wasn't meant to be today. We have to practice tomorrow and jump right back into conference play. It's a tough loss, they are all tough. Hopefully these guys will rebound and get themselves ready to go on Friday night."
Troy got on the board first in the bottom of the second inning thanks to one swing of the bat from right fielder Steven Felix. The younger brother of former Auburn and Troy player Mike Felix, he got a pitch to hit and drove it the other way and just over the outstretched arm of Justin Fradejas in left field. It was just his third homer of the year and put the Trojans up 1-0 early.
They added to the lead in the third inning thanks to plenty of help from the Tigers. With one out, leadoff man Adam Bryant was hit by a Smith pitch and moved to second on a wild pitch. A balk then moved him to third where he would score moments later on a single to left field by Miles Hoyle.
Trailing 2-0, the Tigers finally got the offense going in the top of the fourth and much like Troy, it came via the long ball. With one out Fletcher came to the plate and was quickly sent reeling as a Ward pitch came up and in on him. Fletcher didn't back off the plate though as he hammered the next pitch deep to center field for his ninth home run of the season. That put Auburn on the board, but the Tigers weren't done. A Casey McElroy single followed by a two-out double from Gamache scored the second run of the inning to tie the game at two.
Auburn took its first lead in the fifth thanks to some shaky Troy defense. With one out Fradejas reached on a bunt single and quickly stole second to move into scoring position. A walk to Caldwell then brought the heart of the Auburn order to the plate. Struggling the last few games with men in scoring position, Hunter Morris and Fletcher had a chance to redeem themselves this time around.
It looked like things would continue as Morris lifted a deep fly ball to center field that Peterson had measured for the Trojans. Attempting to bluff Fradejas at second before he had the ball, Peterson dropped the ball. The error allowed a run to score and Caldwell to advance to third. Fletcher followed with a single to left to score Caldwell, but a McElroy double play brought the inning to a close with the Tigers now in front 4-2.
The Tigers had a chance to break the game open in the sixth after a strong fifth inning on the mound from Ray. With one out Gamache and Hargett both singled to bring catcher Ryan Jenkins to the plate. Getting a pitch on the outside portion of the plate, the senior lined it into right field for a single. Deciding to play the percentages, third base coach Link Jarrett held Gamache at third with the speedy Fradejas on deck.
Unfortunately the turf monster struck the Tigers. On an other baseball diamond Fradejas' ground ball to short is just a force out, but on the all-turf surface at Riddle-Pace Field it was quick enough to turn two. For the second-straight inning Auburn left runners in scoring position with a double play to keep the score 4-2.
The lack of clutch hitting would come back to bite the Tigers as Troy broke through with a pair of runs in the seventh to tie the game. A leadoff walk and a single gave the Trojans a pair of runners on against Ray, but he recovered to strike out Jake Sullivan to give the Tigers a chance to get out of the inning. With Hendrix on in relief, pinch hitter Steven Rosado hit a ground ball to Gamache at third. Throwing across the infield, Gamache sailed it wide of Morris. With tons of room down the lines the throw allowed both runners to score and tie the game at four. Hendrix recovered to get out of the inning, but the damage was done.
In the eighth Auburn got a one-out double from Gamache with Hargett reaching after getting hit by a pitch to put a pair of runners on board for the Tigers. That brought third baseman Chase Whitley to the mound to try to stem the Auburn rally. He did just that as he struck out pinch hitter Kevin Patterson before getting Fradejas on a fly ball to end the threat.
Auburn wouldn't be as fortunate in the bottom of the inning as T.J. Rivera reached on an error by McElroy at shortstop to put the Tigers in trouble to begin with. A ground ball moved him to second where it looked like he would stay following a Whitley fly out. Unfortunately for the Tigers it was the Trojans' night as pinch hitter Shohei Fujita's line drive glanced off the glove of a leaping Hargett and into center field. Rivera scored on the play to make it 5-4 Troy. In the top of the ninth Caldwell was thrown out at second trying to stretch a single into a double and that was all she wrote as Whitley finished it off to earn his first win of the season.
Auburn returns to action this weekend as the Tigers take on Alabama in a three-game series in Tuscaloosa.