Tallahassee, Fla.--Hunter Morris hit a three run home run in the top of the eighth inning, but it wasn’t enough to get the Auburn Tigers over the hump as Florida State used three solo home runs to take an early lead and never gave it up on the way to a 4-3 victory at Dick Howser Stadium. The loss drops Auburn to 4-3 overall while FSU improves to 6-0.
For the third consecutive day an Auburn team that swung the bats extremely well in the opening series of the year struggled to find the zone against a Florida State pitching staff that has been very good so far this season. FSU starter Ryan Strauss held the Tigers to just four hits through seven innings before Auburn finally made a run at the Seminoles.
Hunter Morris hit his second home run of the season for Auburn on Saturday.
Down 4-0 things looked like they would stay that way in the eighth as well as the first two Tigers went down before junior Luke Greinke stepped to the plate and doubled to give Auburn some life. A walk to Mike Bianucci then brought Morris to the plate and the freshman delivered with a bomb, his second of the season, to cut the lead to just one at 4-3. Reliever Bryan Woodall pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth to give Auburn one final crack at FSU, but Buster Posey slammed the door for his second save of the series.
“The kids kept battling and kept fighting,” Coach Tommy Slater said. “We didn’t have a lot of quality at-bats early in the game, but they kept hanging in there. Greinke had the big double and they walked Bianucci. Hunter had been on the ball on day and got a pitch to hit.
“You’ve got to credit our kids for hanging in there and battling,” Slater added. “We need to have some better quality at-bats early in the game. There were too many easy outs, too many pop ups, but our kids did keep battling and hanging in there.”
For Auburn on the mound the story was again the bullpen. Starter Taylor Thompson did an admirable job, giving up seven hits in four innings to take the loss, but three of the hits were solo home runs for the Seminoles to put them out in front. Reliever Grant Dayton came on in the fifth and was outstanding, giving up two hits to the first two batters he faced and the pitching perfect baseball for the next three innings. Slater said he couldn’t have been prouder of the way his bullpen performed on Saturday to keep the Tigers in the game.
“Once again our bullpen did an outstanding job,” Slater said. “Grant Dayton was very, very good there coming in during the fifth inning and putting up a lot of zeros for us. Bryan Woodall really threw the ball well for us coming on in the eighth.”
Morris was the only Tiger with two hits on the day as they finished with just six in the game. Greinke, Bianucci, Joseph Sanders and Matt Hall collected Auburn’s other hits. For FSU Posey led the way with a home run and an RBI double while Dennis Guinn and Jason Stidham added solo home runs.
Auburn will try to salvage a victory in the four-game series against Florida State on Sunday at 1 p.m. with sophomore Austin Hubbard on the mound for the Tigers.