Athens, Ga.—Georgia starting pitcher Alex Wood allowed just two earned runs on four hits in eight innings and the Bulldogs scored four runs on just two hits in the sixth to break open a tie game and defeat the Auburn Tigers 5-2 Friday night in Athens. Four Auburn pitchers combined to allow just four hits, but seven walks were the difference as the Tigers fell to 25-20 overall and 10-12 with the loss.
Auburn starter Jon Luke Jacobs was the tough luck loser, allowing two runs on just three hits in five and one/third innings. Slade Smith gave up three runs and didn’t record an out in his worst outing of the season. Cory Luckie and Jay Wade combined to pitch the final three innings, walking three but not allowing a run.
In a game that was nip and tuck for much of the way several close calls went against Auburn from home plate umpire Jack Cox. It started in the second inning when Dan Glevenyak was called out at the plate, but replays showed he was safe. That would have given the Tigers the early lead and some momentum. Several key ball-strike situations later in the game also cost Auburn, but Coach John Pawlowski said his team just has to fight through that and it didn’t Friday night.
“You have to overcome adversity,” Pawlowski said. “There is always adversity during the course of a game, whatever that adversity may be. You have to fight through it whether it’s a hitter or defensively or a pitcher. You have to stay locked in and be able to overcome.
“We’ve done a really good job out of our bullpen, but unfortunately today in a situation we just weren’t able to make those pitches,” he added. “Against good teams they capitalize on it. We weren’t able to piece much together offensively. Wood did a great job for them. He just held us in check for much of the night.”
Glevenyak finished with two of Auburn’s four hits on the night with first baseman Garrett Cooper collecting the other two. With wins at a premium for the Tigers with only eight regular season SEC games left, Glevenyak said they’ve got to come out swinging on Saturday.
“Last weekend was big for us because we needed all three of those wins and we got them,” Glevenyak said. “We did exactly what we needed to do. This weekend we just have to keep rolling. Tonight was tough, but we just have to put it past us and try to get Saturday and Sunday under our belt.”
Auburn threatened in the top of the second as Glevenyak singled on the first pitch he saw from Wood to reach first. Moving to second on a stolen base with Blake Austin at the plate, Glevenyak moved to third on a wild pitch following a strikeout to get himself into prime scoring position with Jay Gonzalez at the plate. Getting down 1-2, Gonzalez ripped a ball off the glove of third baseman Curt Powell and Glevenyak broke for the plate. Sliding in just ahead of the throw, the Auburn shortstop was nevertheless called out by Cox.
“I was on third base and the corners were in,” Glevenyak said. “Anything to them I was going back to the bag. I saw him bobble it and in my head I thought he would have to get up and make a perfect throw, and he did. I think he grazed me, but I think I was in.”
Dan Glevenyak is called out by home plate umpire Jack Cox
With one out in the third Jacobs walked number eight hitter Colby May to put the first runner of the game on for the Bulldogs. His problems were compounded when number nine hitter Conor Welton ripped a single into right field to put runners on first and third for the top of the order. Trying the fake to third and throw to first move, Jacobs caught Welton leaning and he was tagged out for the second out of the inning. Auburn appeared to get out of the inning when Jacobs froze Powell on an 0-2 pitch, but Cox froze as well behind the plate and called it a ball. Powell singled on the next pitch to put Georgia up 1-0.
It looked like the Bulldogs would add to their lead in the fifth as Peter Verdin walked to lead off the inning, but a ground ball from Levi Hyams right back to Jacobs on the mound cut down the runner at second. On the play however Glevenyak’s throw was wild at first, allowing Hyams to move into scoring position.
A fly ball to center field moved Hyams to third to bring Welton to the plate. Getting a pitch to take the other way, the lefty sent a fly ball into the gap in left-center that Cullen Wacker ran down for the third out. On the play a diving Ryan Tella slid into his legs and sent him tumbling. The two remained down for several minutes before both walked off under their own power.
After struggling mightily the first five innings, Auburn finally got something going again in the top of the sixth. With two outs and nobody on Garrett Cooper singled to bring Wacker’s spot in the order to the plate. Out with a sprained knee, the left fielder was replaced by Justin Bryant and the senior drew a walk to bring Glevenyak to the plate. Continuing his hot play at the plate, Glevenyak singled through the left side to score Cooper and tie the game for the Tigers.
That’s when things would unravel in a hurry for Auburn. After getting the first out of the sixth, Jacobs allowed a single to Kyle Farmer to end his night. Turning to Smith out of the bullpen has been a good move for the Tigers in SEC play, but it wasn’t on Friday. Allowing a single to Hunter Cole, Smith then walked Brett DeLoach to load the bases and bring Justin Bryan to the plate. With a full count and one out Smith grooved a fastball that the freshman took, but Cox called it a ball to force home the first run of the inning.
That was the tipping point for the Tigers as a walk to Verdin made it 3-1 and sent Smith to the showers. Luckie didn’t fare much better as he got a ground ball to second to force home DeLoach from third before walking both May and Welton for the 5-1 Georgia lead. Jay Wade came in to get the final out of the inning, but not before the Bulldogs scored four runs on just two hits to break things open.
Auburn got a run back in the top of the eighth as Wood remained in the game past the 100-pitch mark. Hitting Tella to lead off the inning, a ground ball by Simpson moved the runner to second and a wild pitch to third for Cooper. The big first baseman came through with a single to center field to score the runner and cut the Georgia lead down to three.
Following a Bryant fly ball out to right field, Glevenyak walked to reach base for the third time on the night and bring Austin to the plate. With Wood over 120 pitches Austin got something good to hit and lined it hard into right field, but a sliding Cole snagged it to end the inning with Auburn down 5-2. That’s how things would end as Pete Nagel pitched the ninth to finish things off for the Bulldogs.
Auburn will try to even the series on Saturday as the Tigers send freshman Daniel Koger (3-4, 2.67 ERA) to the mound against senior Michael Palazzone (2-5, 5.40) for Georgia. The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. central time and can be seen on CSS.
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