All Is Not Lost for Auburn Baseball
Auburn players stuck together during a disappointing close series loss to their rival. (photo: Julie Bennett/al.com)
No. 4 Auburn entered this weekend as the first-place team in the league with a chance to win the SEC regular-season baseball championship with a sweep of last place Alabama. However, it was Bama that did the sweeping. The Tide took two one-run games on Saturday, 4–3 and 7–6, and then won a 15-inning slugfest late Sunday night.
While the Auburn offense was hampered by significant injuries that left Luke Jarvis and Daniel Robert unable to play, the Tigers could have won both of Saturday’s contest but for hitting into four double plays and uncharacteristically committing five errors, all of which led to runs.
And it was an error by backup shortstop Will Holland in the top of the 15th that led to the Tide’s winning runs in Sunday’s 6 1/2 hour game.
Seventeen pitchers went to the mound in the game-three marathon. The Tigers performed well enough at the plate, getting 16 hits with 16 walks, but just couldn’t get the needed hit to win it. Auburn coach Butch Thompson said the loss was on him, and he expects the team to bounce back. “I told the guys that you need to stay together and keep working hard for us.”
Alabama, losers of nine one-run games this season, was due to finally win one, but to win two and then get the sweep against the first place Tigers is almost unimaginable. Auburn’s chance for that regular season championship may be gone now.
However … all is not lost.
No doubt the losses will hurt the team’s RPI, but the Tigers can still put themselves in a position to host an NCAA Regional with wins this week in Birmingham against UAB, a road series against LSU beginning Thursday, and a series against Ole Miss next weekend at home
While a regular season championship would’ve been nice, college baseball is really about making it to the NCAA Tourney and the College World Series. That goal is still alive. And it starts Thursday in Baton Rouge.