Offensive Malaise

Thanks to a hard-hitting Auburn team, Ole Miss suffered its first series sweep this season, and the first since 2006, Saturday. Read about it inside.

The hits kept coming. For Auburn, that is.

After allowing 23 combined runs over the first two games, both losses, of a three-game home series to No. 16 Auburn this weekend, Ole Miss again fell victim to one of the nation's stronger offenses.

An anemic Ole Miss offense wasn't helped by sophomore right-hander, David Goforth, who surrendered a two-run home run to Trent Mummey, his 15th of the season, in the top of the first inning. Goforth unraveled in a seven-run Auburn third, as the Rebels were swept for the first time this season, 11-1, Saturday.

Ole Miss hasn't been swept in-conference since dropping a three-game set to Kentucky in 2006.

"Right now, we just got to forget about what happened," sophomore Matt Snyder, who was 3-for-3 with a home run and a double, said. "We have to gain more confidence than we have right now. I don't think we have much confidence at the plate right now. Once we get that confidence back, I think we'll start swinging it better."

With the loss, the seventh in Ole Miss' last 10 games, the Rebels fall to 36-20 (16-14) on the year. Ole Miss is the No. 6 seed in the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover, Ala., and will meet No. 3 seeded South Carolina Wednesday at 1 p.m.

"I don't think the confidence level's very good after a weekend like this," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "We played bad, but I don't know if we would've played well as well as they played. They were too good for us this week. But it's a crazy game. Anything can happen."

Snyder, Ole Miss' oft-injured, power-hitting designated hitter, led off the bottom of the second inning with his 10th home run, a line-drive shot over the left-center-field fence. It was the first of only four hits for Ole Miss in the game, but the threat was quickly averted as the Rebels then went in order to trail, 2-1.

The Rebels came no closer.

Brian Fletcher roped a leadoff double in the top of the third inning. Two batters later, Kevin Patterson drove him home on a single and a 3-1 lead. Casey McElroy grounded out, and Goforth seemed to have momentum when Tiger catcher, Tony Caldwell, came to the plate.

But Auburn, as it has proven all weekend, can score runs in a multitude of ways. Caldwell laid down a safety squeeze, scoring another, and the floodgates were open to the decisive inning that all but put the game away.

"It's real tough when that happens," Snyder said of pulling within one run, but falling behind by a large margin an inning later. "I'm telling you, all we need is our confidence to get built back up. When that happens, we'll be fine."

Goforth (1-5) finished with a final line of 2.1 innings pitched, seven hits, seven runs (five earned) and four walks compared to three stirkeouts.

"Just not a good day," Bianco said of Goforth. "He was facing a very good offense, very confident. Today, mechanically, he had trouble getting the ball down; a lot of fastballs up. The walks, the errors, they mount up too much. When you face (Auburn), you can't give them that many opportunities."

Rory McKean relieved Goforth with his team trailing, 5-1. However, four more runs crossed the plate (all charged to Goforth) against the righty in the inning.

Still, he held the Tigers scoreless until he gave way to Matt Crouse in the top of the seventh inning, but a sputtering offense failed to muster any reasonable threat.

"You've just got to keep swinging," Smith said after another uninspired offensive performance. "Obviously, we didn't swing it well. It can't get much worse than what you saw this weekend, offensively."

In turn, Auburn coasted to Hoover on the heels of a SEC West crown. The Tigers (39-17, 20-10) are appearing in the conference tournament for the first time since 2003.

Grant Dayton, Auburn's left-handed starter, worked five innings, allowing three hits and one earned run. He gave way to Michael Hurst, who finished the final four frames, with only one hit against and no runs. Both pitchers totaled three strikeouts.

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