The Auburn Tigers (20-15-1, 5-10 SEC) dropped two out of three games against the Alabama Crimson Tide (26-11, 6-9 SEC) this weekend at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Auburn picked up an 8-4 victory in the first game of the series on Friday night. Senior left-hander Tommy Vail got the start and allowed no runs off of two hits, walked four batters and struck four out in 6.2 innings of work. Junior left-hander Tanner Bauman pitched 1.2 innings of relief and allowed four runs off of two hits, walked three batters and struck out two. Sophomore right-hander Will Cannon closed up shop by pitching the last 0.2 innings and allowed one hit, walked one batter and picked up one strikeout.
“We needed somebody to step up,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “It was his best outing. It was clean, it was efficient, it was great baseball. We needed this one on the road and Tommy absolutely silenced a very good lineup.”
Sophomore right-hander Luke Holman got the start for Alabama and gave up four runs off of four hits, walked three batters and struck out six in 6.2 innings of work. Sophomore right-hander Hagan Banks pitched for 1.2 innings and allowed four runs off of two hits, walked one batter and struck out two. Sophomore left-hander Connor Ball pitched the last 0.2 innings and allowed one hit and struck one batter out.
Freshman left fielder Chris Stanfield got the scoring started by hitting a two-run homer in the second inning. That was all the scoring through the first six innings of the game.
Junior second baseman Caden Green added on two runs in the seventh inning with a single. Sophomore first baseman Cooper McMurray hit an RBI single in the top of the eighth inning to extend the Auburn lead to 5-0. Green reached on an error that allowed Stanfield to score from second and junior shortstop Cole Foster hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning to give Auburn an eight-run cushion that ended up coming in handy.
“Throughout the night my at-bats got better and I happened to hit a hanging changeup and did what I could with it,” Foster said.
The Crimson Tide made a late push in the bottom of the ninth inning, even having the tying run at the plate. But the Tigers managed to escape with a game-one victory.
Alabama was able to even up the series in the second game by picking up a 4-2 victory.
Sophomore left-hander Drew Nelson got the start and ended up with the loss for Auburn. Nelson allowed three runs off of two hits, walked three batters and struck one out. He was unable to record an out in the second inning before being pulled from the game. Sophomore right-hander Parker Carlson and freshman left-hander Zach Crotchfelt both provided quality relief pitching.
“Those guys stayed intact,” Thompson said of Armstrong and Carlson. “The other thing that stayed intact was our defense. Kason Howell in right-center field, Bobby Peirce in deep left, a couple double plays.”
Senior right-hander Garrett McMillan got the start in what was his third appearance of the season and picked up the win. McMillan allowed one hit and struck four batters out in five innings of work. Freshman left-hander Alton Davis II picked up the save.
The Crimson Tide scored three runs in the second inning to take the lead and never gave it back, they added on one more in the fourth but that was it.
Redshirt senior left fielder Bobby Peirce hit a solo shot over the left field scoreboard in the seventh inning for Auburn’s first run. Junior shortstop Cole Foster singled through the left side of the infield to drive in another run in the ninth inning but the comeback fell short.
“We’ve got to start turning the corner,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “I absolutely loved the engagement of our ballclub and giving us a chance when the game didn’t get started the way we wanted it to. I thought we were one barrel away and had the guys who could do it.”
The Tigers dropped game three and the series 6-1 to the Crimson Tide on Sunday.
“A couple double plays were back-breaking in the game, momentum changers,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “They pitched well enough to win. We moderately pitched better but we’ve got to continue to grow.”
Redshirt junior right-hander Christian Herberholz got the start and ended up with the loss for Auburn allowing two runs off of three hits, walking three batters and striking out four in four innings of work.
Graduate right-hander Jacob McNairy got the start for Alabama, allowing one run off of four hits, walking two batters and striking out five in 3.2 innings of work. Freshman left-hander Alton Davis II picked up his second save of the weekend in a 1.2-inning effort that saw one walk and two strikeouts.
The Tigers’ only run of the series finale came from an RBI single by senior catcher Nate Larue in the fourth inning.
Alabama’s offense would be too much for Auburn to handle as the Tide cruised to a 6-1 victory.
Auburn will be back in action at home in Plainsman Park on Tuesday night when the Samford Bulldogs travel down to the Plains. First pitch is set for 6:00 p.m. CDT and the game will be broadcasted on the SEC Network.