*Courtesy Auburn Media Relations*
AUBURN, Ala. – The momentum is gone for Auburn’s baseball team. All gone. Missouri took it away Friday night with a 4-2 victory at Plainsman Park that guaranteed its first series win of the Southeastern Conference season.
Missouri, mired in last place with five straight SEC losses coming in, will go for the sweep Saturday at noon with ace Brett Graves (3-1, 1.51 ERA) on the mound. It is the first road series for Missouri over a ranked opponent since 2009.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
No. 21 Auburn climbed into the national polls for the first time this season after winning series over Texas A&M at home and Tennessee on the road. It won’t win one this weekend.
For first-year Auburn coach Sunny Golloway, the frustration was evident.
“We’ve seemed to be defensive offensively all weekend and we are going to face their best pitcher tomorrow. I don’t know what gives there. I don’t recognize the team I’m coaching these last two days.”
Auburn ace Keegan Thompson gave up two runs on seven hits in six innings, striking out nine. But he walked four and threw 104 pitches.
Trailing 2-0, Auburn got a run in the sixth on Damek Tomscha’s double and Blake Austin’s single and another in the seventh on Jordan Ebert’s run-scoring single, his third hit of the night. But Missouri answered in the top of the eighth off reliever Justin Camp. With the bases loaded, Eric Anderson laced his third double of the night. Camp took the loss and fell to 1-4.
Auburn’s last threat ended in the eighth when, with two outs, Ryan Tella was thrown out at third on a double steal. A similar double steal ended the seventh inning in Auburn’s 3-2 loss Thursday night.
“The report on Missouri is they don’t hold you with two outs,” Golloway said. “They haven’t. If you watch, their second baseman is deep in the 4 hole, their shortstop is deep. They don’t even flinch. You can get as big a lead as you want to and steal third base. That’s the report. Everybody has stolen third base on them with two outs all year.
“For whatever reason, we are hesitating. We shouldn’t have been thrown out today and shouldn’t have yesterday in a key situation in the seventh.”
Missouri, hitting just .259 coming into the series, had 12 hits off Auburn pitchers. Auburn, hitting .300, had 15 flyball outs and just six hits.
“We had 15 balls in the air and they had five balls in the air,” Golloway said. “That is a big difference. You have to hit the ball on the ground in college baseball, and we’re not doing it. Our approach at the plate was not very good.”
Auburn fell to 18-10 overall and 4-4 in the SEC. Missouri improved to 13-12 overall and 3-5 in the SEC. The Tigers are left now to try to avoid being swept and potentially falling from first to last in the West.
“You just come back and play,” Golloway said. “You have to be mentally tough in this game. That’s one thing this program hasn’t been in the past. We have to be mentally tough. We have to be able to bounce back.”
Auburn played without senior second baseman Dan Glevenyak and will likely play without him Saturday. Connor Short, who had played only third base this season, played second and catcher Blake Austin moved to third.
“It’s some kind of injury in the hip,” Golloway said. “How long, I don’t know. It could be a long time. I’m not sure what to do. We don’t have depth. We have to go with what we’ve got, try to be tough about it and move from there.”