AU Comeback Falls Just Short At FSU

Joseph Sanders had a huge night for AU

Auburn fell to fifth-ranked Florida State 8-7 in the baseball series opener Thursday night.

Tallahassee, Fla.--The Auburn Tigers (2-3) battled back from a four-run deficit to tie Thursday night's game against Florida State (5-0), but the Seminoles got the last laugh as Mike Meschke's single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth gave FSU an 8-7 win in the series opener.

In the game Auburn gave away chances time and time again, both in the field and at the plate. The Tigers committed three errors and walked seven Seminole hitters, but it was on offense where the troubles came. Despite a big night from junior third baseman Joseph Sanders with two home runs, three total hits, and four RBI, Auburn's offense had an off-night to say the least.

The Tigers were just 1-9 at the plate with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base for the game. Coach John Pawlowski said that he's proud of his team for the fight they showed, but too many mistakes was the difference for his team Thursday night.

"We had plenty of opportunities," Pawlowski said. "Against a top tive team in the country you can't do that. You've got to take advantage of everything they give you. I thought we certainly pitched well enough. I thought Ty Kelley did a great job for us. It was another strong outing.

"The difference for me was we gave away several at-bats and then defensively we gave them four outs a couple of innings," the first-year Auburn coach said. "We certainly put ourselves behind the eight ball.

"The kids battled back to their credit. I thought our guys gave us another very good effort in trying to come back and win a ball game. We had our chances. We just couldn't seal the deal."

The loss spoiled a terrific outing by sophomore pitcher Ty Kelley. In his first career outing, the Columbus, Ga., native allowed three earned runs on five hits in four and one/third innings while striking seven.

Ty Kelley was strong for Auburn against the Seminoles.

Out of the bullpen Taylor Thompson gave up three runs in one and one/third inning. Sean Ray had a solid performance with two scoreless innings. Bradley Hendrix took the loss, giving up three hits and one run in one/third of an inning.

At the plate Auburn had just four hits from players other than Sanders and two of those came from center fielder Trent Mummey. While it wasn't a crisp performance, Sanders said the Tigers learned a little bit about themselves in the loss Thursday night.

"We battled back at the end of the game," Sanders said. "Offensively, all night we weren't able to get it done. We kind of put ourselves in a hole there towards the end of the game. We need to start getting on people early.

"Our pitchers did a great job tonight throwing strikes," he added. "Ty threw a hell of a game. We made a few errors there towards the beginning to give them some life. That put us in a hole and we could never dig out."

After a first inning of over 30 pitches, Kelley ran into some trouble in the bottom of the second. Leading things off, Stephen Cardullo singled to left field and moved to second on a walk to Ohmed Danesh. Two failed bunt attempts by D'Vontrey Richardson led to a strikeout for out number one and it looked like Kelley might get out of the inning on a Rafael Lopez ground ball to Kevin Patterson at first base.

A good throw to second started a potential inning-ending double play, but Casey McElroy's throw to first was wide and to the wall. That allowed Cardullo to score the game's first run. Back to the top of the order, Tyler Holt hit a deep fly ball to center field that Trent Mummey misplayed. Lopez came around to score on the play, and when Mummey's throw in sailed over the cutoff, Holt scored as well to make it 3-0 Seminoles.

Auburn answered back in the top of the third, but missed a golden opportunity for a big inning. Justin Hargett was hit by a pitch to open the frame and Mummey followed with a single to left field to give the Tigers some life. Another hit batter, this time Joseph Sanders, loaded the bases for Ben Jones with nobody out.

Scorching the ball his first time up with a liner to right field, Jones earned a walk to push across Auburn's first run and leave the bases loaded for Hunter Morris. Just missing a pitch to the short porch in right field, Morris instead lifted a fly ball to right field to score Mummey and move Sanders to third with one out. A walk to Brian Fletcher loaded the bases once again, but Patterson hit into a double play to end the Auburn threat with the Tigers trailing 3-2.

The Tigers missed a golden opportunity to break the game open in the top of the fifth. Leading off, Mummey singled up the middle to get things started for Auburn. For the second consecutive time Sanders was hit in the head by a pitch to bring Jones to the plate. Putting down a perfect sacrifice bunt, Jones did his job. That meant a base was open for Morris and FSU played the odds by walking him intentionally to load the bases with one out.

With a chance to do some damage, Fletcher was also hit by a pitch to force across the tying run. That would be all for Auburn though as Patterson struck out and McElroy grounded out to end the inning. FSU would have the chance to answer back in the bottom of the inning and they didn't pass up the opportunity.

Still in the game, Kelley got Holt to start the fifth, but a single by Tommy Oravetz meant the end of the line for the sophomore. Thompson came on for the Tigers and immediately struck out Mike McGee for out number two. Following a walk to Jason Stidham, Stuart Tapley's double off the fencing in right field scored both runners to put Florida State back in front 5-3.

Things went from bad to worse for the Tigers in the sixth as a one out walk to Mike Meschke by Thompson started another Seminole rally. A single by Lopez put runners on first and second for Holt and the leadoff man singled to left just out of the reach of McElroy. Fletcher then misplayed the ground ball to allow Lopez to score all the way from first on the error. That made it 7-3 Florida State with only three at-bats left for the Tigers.

Auburn got one run back in the seventh as Sanders led off the inning with a long solo home run just to the left of dead center field. It was Sanders' second home run of the season and started another rally for the Tigers, but like they had done all day the team failed to deliver in the clutch.

A single by Jones and a walk to Fletcher one out later gave the Tigers two runners on, but strikeouts by Patterson and McElroy stopped the threat with Auburn down by three. Things were far from done in this one though.

Hitless on the day, Tony Caldwell doubled to left to once again give the Tigers some life to start the eighth. Justin Hargett then reached on an error before a Mummey strikeout brought Sanders back to the plate again.

Getting ahead 3-0 in the count, the red hot Sanders swung at a pitch out over the plate and drove it over the wall in right field for his second home run. The three-run shot tied the game at seven, but FSU won in the bottom of the ninth as singles by Stidham and Tapley set the stage for Meschke's game winner.

Auburn will send sophomore Grant Dayton to the mound on Friday for the 3 p.m. CST start against FSU's Sean Gilmartin.

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