Auburn Falls To FSU In Series Opener

Joseph Sanders

Auburn had its chances, but came up just short against Florida State in the series opener.

Auburn, Ala.--FSU first baseman Dennis Guinn went 3-4 with three RBI, including a two-run home run in the eighth inning that proved to be the difference, as the Seminoles defeated the Auburn Tigers 7-5 Thursday night at Plainsman Park. The loss drops Auburn to 4-1 on the season while #11 Florida State improves to 5-0.

On a night when Auburn didn't play perfect baseball, time and time again the Tigers had chances to make a run at the Seminoles only to come up short. Auburn stranded just seven base runners for the game, but FSU's number was only four making for a tough night for the home team. Coach Tommy Slater said that while his team didn't come up with the plays to win, they played well against a very good Seminole team.

"We left some guys on base tonight," Slater said. "We had some quality at-bats and we got some opportunities there we didn't cash in on, but 4-5-6 tonight Morris, Sanders and Patterson really swung the bat well. It was a good baseball game between two pretty good teams."

The 4-5-6 hitters for the Auburn team on Thursday night, Hunter Morris, Joseph Sanders and Kevin Patterson, combined to go 5-9 for the night with four RBI. Sanders was particularly good as he went 2-4 with three runs batted in. He said it was nice to get back on track with some hits after struggling a little the opening weekend.

"It was definitely nice to get a couple of hits," Sanders said. "I just kept battling with it and trying my best. The hits will come."

On the mound the duo of starter Luke Greinke and reliever Bradley Hendrix both pitched well in spots for the Tigers. Going six innings and allowing four earned runs on seven hits while throwing 102 pitches, Greinke settled down after a rough start to have a good outing. While Hendrix's numbers weren't great, two earned runs on four hits in three innings, Slater said both did a good job on the night.

"In the fourth, fifth and sixth I thought he really threw the ball well," Slater said. "He didn't make terrible pitches, but I thought he got better as the game went along. I tell you Bradley Hendrix threw the ball well. He made one mistake and the kid hit it out of here on a 3-0 pitch, but that's why you can't get behind guys. I thought he did a nice job. He's a kid we really trust."

After a scoreless first, FSU got on the board in the top of the second as Guinn drilled a double off the monster in left field to get the Seminoles started. Moving to third on a wild pitch, Guinn scored on a ground ball by Ohmed Danesh to make it 1-0. Auburn threatened in the bottom of the second as Morris doubled, but was stranded to leave the Tigers scoreless.

Hunter Morris rips a double against Florida State Thursday night.

Florida State got the offense going full tilt in the third inning against Greinke as number nine hitter Stuart Tapley led off with a single to center field. Following a strikeout he moved to third on a Jason Stidham single to right field. Catcher Buster Posey followed with a single of his own to score Tapley and make it 2-0. Former Tennessee standout Tony Delmonico plated a run on a sacrifice fly and Guinn's second hit of the game pushed across Posey and just like that it was 4-0 FSU through two and a half innings.

Florida State starting pitcher Elih Villanueva baffled the Tigers through three innings before the Tigers finally got on the board in the fourth. Leading off, Brian Fletcher reached after being hit by a pitch. Following a Mike Bianucci strikeout, Morris again reached base as he earned a walk to put the Tigers in business. Struggling to open the season, Sanders ripped a double into the gap to score both runners and cut the lead to just two.

A walk to Patterson again gave the Tigers a runner in scoring position with still one out and things got even more interesting as Auburn attempted a double steal. The throw from Posey bounced into left field, allowing Sanders to score and Patterson to move up to third. Auburn had the chance to really make the Seminoles pay, but a failed squeeze attempt with Matt Hall at the plate retired Patterson. Later Hall would single only to be picked off first base.

With its lead trimmed to 4-3, FSU came back with another run in the fifth thanks to some shaky defense by the Tigers. Leading off, Holt was hit by a Greinke pitch after he got behind 0-2 in the count. It proved to be a big mistake for Greinke as one out later Posey singled on a hit and run to center field. Cutting in front of center fielder Trent Mummey, Fletcher's hustle actually hurt the Tigers as Mummey misplayed the ball allowing Holt to score and Posey to go all the way to third. Greinke recovered to retire the next two batters and keep the FSU lead at just 5-3.

Auburn had another chance to have a big inning in the bottom of the sixth, but to no avail. With one out Morris worked a walk from Villanueva and moved to second on a balk with Sanders at the plate. Already with a double on the night, Sanders hammered a 3-0 fastball into the gap to easily score Morris and cut the lead back to one. Patterson then singled off reliever Jimmy Marshall to left field, but Mike McGee came up throwing and gunned down Sanders in a close play at the plate to preserve FSU's 5-4 lead heading to the seventh.

Auburn threatened in the bottom of the seventh as Mummey reached after being hit by a pitch with two outs in the inning. Getting a good jump, the freshman stole second base despite the Seminoles pitching out. Fletcher then hit what appeared to be a single to center field, but Delmonico ranged to his left, spun, and threw to first to retire Fletcher and keep FSU ahead by one.

The Seminoles would put the game away in the top of the eighth once again thanks to Guinn. Already with two hits and one RBI on the night, Guinn came to the plate with one out in the inning and a runner on first base. Getting ahead 3-0 in the count against Hendrix, Guinn lined a two-run shot just inside the foul pole on top of the monster in left field. The blast gave FSU a commanding 7-4 lead with just two at-bats left for the Tigers.

Yet another opportunity was wasted in the bottom of the eighth for Auburn as Bianucci led off the inning with a double into the left field corner. Two consecutive outs moved Bianucci to third where he was standing when Patterson drilled a double deep to right-center field. Now trailing 7-5, Auburn then got a break as Tapley booted a Hall ground ball to put runners on the corners for catcher Ryan Jenkins. Getting ahead 3-0, Jenkins popped up on a 3-1 pitch to end the threat and keep the deficit at two.

On a night of missed opportunities, Auburn had a slight glimmer of hope in the ninth facing FSU ace closer Posey, who moved to the mound from the plate. With two outs Ben Jones was hit by a pitch to bring Bianucci back to the plate with a chance to tie the game. It wasn't to be on this night as Posey blew away the junior on three pitches to close the door on a 7-5 FSU win.

Auburn freshman Cory Luckie gets the call on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. against sophomore Matt Fairel for Florida State. The series moves to Tallahassee for games three and four on Saturday and Sunday.

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