Mistakes Cost Tigers In 4-3 Loss To Alabama

Brett Binning

Mistake-prone Auburn fell 4-3 to Alabama on Sunday as the Crimson Tide won in walk-off fashion to win the baseball series vs. the Tigers.

Tuscaloosa, Ala.--In a game in which Auburn left 10 runners on base, had four runners thrown out on the bases while committing three errors in the field, it was a final mental mistake that wound up costing Coach Sunny Golloway's team in a 4-3 loss at Alabama.

With the game tied in the ninth inning and facing Auburn's Keegan Thompson, Wade Wass doubled to right field on a ball that Anfernee Grier dove for instead of playing it safe and holding him to a single. With two outs in the inning, Casey Hughston drove a ball over the head of Grier for the game-winner to give the Crimson Tide the win and the series victory over the Tigers.

With the loss Auburn falls to 21-16 overall and 6-9 in SEC play while Alabama improves to 24-11, 9-6 in league action.

Getting quality pitching from reliever Trey Wingenter and Thompson out of the bullpen following a start from closer Terrance Dedrick, the Tigers were still in the game in the ninth inning despite all of the mistakes. Getting the first hitter of the inning, Thompson faced Wass and the catcher hit a flare into right field in front of Grier. Instead of playing it safe and holding the runner at first, Grier made a diving attempt and camp up empty. The mistake allowed Wass to advance to second and put Auburn in big trouble.

Recovering to get Kyle Overstreet on a fly ball to right field for the second out, Thompson faced Hughston with first base open. Already with two hits on the day and first base open, Auburn decided to pitch to the left-hander instead of walking him to face right-hander Chance Vincent. The roll of the dice didn't pay off as Hughston launched the ball over the head of a drawn-in Grier to give Alabama the win.

"Trey Wingenter did a great job," Golloway said. "He kept us in there. We knew we couldn't go very long with Keegan. Keegan pitched really well, but if we don't make the mistake in right field and we get to play regular depth in the outfield then I think we catch that ball. We had to bring the outfielders in to be able to have a chance to throw him out at the plate.

"We played tough though," Golloway added. "We played seven freshmen out of our nine and I thought they really played tough. I'm proud of the young guys and the way they competed in a tough and important ball game."

At the plate Auburn did a much better job than on Saturday, pounding Alabama pitching for 12 hits on the day. Leading the way was freshman Brett Binning with three hits while fellow freshmen Connor Short and Grier added two hits each.

Changing the lineup dramatically with his team in a funk, Golloway put seven freshmen in the field for the Tigers with closer senior Dedrick getting the start on the mound. It wasn't a good homecoming for Dedrick, however, as the Tuscaloosa native failed to record an out in the third inning before being replaced by Wingenter. He ran into trouble right away with Alabama taking an early lead on Sunday.

In the first inning singles from Mikey White and Georgie Salem put the Crimson Tide in business before a sacrifice bunt moved both into scoring position with one out. Wass put Alabama on the scoreboard first with a groundout before Dedrick walked Overstreet to keep the inning alive. It proved to be huge as Hughston's ground ball to Brett Binning at second base was thrown away. The error allowed Salem to score and gave Alabama a 2-0 lead.

Failing to score in the second inning following a pair of two-out singles from Connor Short and Binning, Auburn again ran into trouble in the bottom of the inning. With one out number nine hitter Daniel Cucjen reached on a bloop single to right field and then stole second to move into scoring position for the top of the Alabama order. Following a fly ball out by White, Salem singled to score the runner from second and push the lead to three.

Looking for some life on offense, Auburn got singles from J.J. Shaffer and Damon Haecker to start the third inning to bring Damek Tomscha to the plate. Measuring up Keller, Tomscha ripped a single to center field for the third consecutive hit for the Tigers. Trying to put the pressure on, Auburn turned Shaffer at third and sent him towards the plate. It proved to be the wrong call, however, as Salem easily threw him out for the first out of the inning.

Rattled, Keller walked Daniel Robert to load the bases and bring Blake Logan to the plate. Playing in place of Blake Austin, Logan worked a walk to force home Haecker and put Auburn on the board. Following a Jordan Ebert strikeout, Short singled home Tomscha to cut the Alabama lead down to just one. Continuing his big day, Binning flared a single into center field to score Robert from third, but Logan was cut down at the plate to end the inning with the score tied 3-3.

With Wingenter pitching well that's how things would remain until Auburn had a chance to take the lead in the seventh. Walking to open the inning, Haecker was thrown out trying to steal second for the first out of the inning. It was the fourth runner thrown out on the bases in the game for the Tigers and it proved to be important as Tomscha walked and Robert singled to put runners on first and second with one out. Needing a key hit, Logan and Ebert couldn't get Tomscha home to leave things tied at three.

Auburn will hit the road again on Tuesday night when the Tigers travel to face Samford in Birmingham before returning home to face South Carolina next weekend at Plainsman Park.

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