"I'm disappointed," Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. "I'm disappointed for our kids and our program. These guys worked so hard in the preseason and put so much effort into it. Unfortunately today we weren't very good. We didn't pitch very well and didn't execute pitches. You put five errors on the board and you don't hit in the clutch then you get beat. We didn't play very well. It was obvious in all the facets of the game. The key is are they going to come back tomorrow and regroup. Hopefully we'll play better tomorrow."
The bad news just keeps on coming for Auburn on the injury front as already without center fielder Trent Mummey because of an injured ankle, the Tigers will now be using their third player at the position after junior college transfer Justin Fradejas injured his hand swinging at a pitch during the game and had to be taken for x-rays. With a home run already in the contest, Fradejas looked to be a capable replacement before going out of the game.
Crede Simpson slides in with one of his three runs scored.
That duty will now fall to Crede Simpson. The Auburn native started in right field for the Tigers and was one of the bright spots on the day with three hits and three runs scored. He'll now move to center with catcher Tony Caldwell taking over in right field. Pawlowski said they're expecting Fradejas to be out at least the next week.
As expected the top of the Auburn order came through on Friday as Justin Hargett had two hits, including a home run. Hunter Morris added three hits while Brian Fletcher had two hits and three RBI. However the rest of the team managed just two hits in 21 at-bats.
On the mound things were even tougher for the Tigers as Jon-Luke Jacobs allowed six runs on five hits in four and two/thirds innings to get the loss. Auburn's bullpen gave up seven runs in four and one/third on 10 hits, however only three of the runs were earned.
Auburn got the offense going early thanks to the powerful middle of the Tigers' order. With one out Simpson worked a walk to bring Morris to the plate. Getting a pitch to pull, the junior laced it through the right side to put runners on first and second for Fletcher. Getting his season off to a strong start, Fletcher singled to left field to score Simpson and put Auburn on the board. Dan Gamache followed with a ground ball to second base that scored Morris for the 2-0 Auburn lead.
Southeast Missouri would answer back in the top of the second as right fielder Louie Haseltine got a two-out pitch to drive and deposited it deep over the wall in left field. The solo shot cut Auburn's lead in half and was a sign of things to come in this game as SEMO would touch up Jacobs even more in the coming innings.
The Tigers had a chance to add to their lead in the bottom of the second as freshman shortstop Jordan Neese, in for an injured Casey McElroy, walked with one out to reach base and Fradejas followed with a bunt that forced an error on first baseman Kody Campbell. With two on and one out and the top of the order coming up things looked good for Auburn, but Hargett lined out to center field and Simpson followed with a liner to right for the third out.
It proved to be big as SEMO would break things open in the third inning off Jacobs with one swing of the bat. With one out Nick Harris walked to give the visitors some life. Left fielder Michael Adamson followed with a sharp single to right field to bring catcher Jim Klocke to the plate. Leaving one over the plate, Jacobs made a big mistake as Klocke creamed it to right field and over the K Corner for a three-run shot to put SEMO up 4-2.
That's how things would stay until the bottom of the fourth when Fradejas would come through again for the Tigers. With two outs and nobody on the speedy center fielder got a pitch to drive and pulled it over the left field wall for the first homer of the year for Auburn. Back to within one things looked to be settling back in, but Southeast Missouri would again come up big in the fifth.
With Jacobs still on the mound Adamson singled with one out to bring Klocke to the plate. Jacobs did his job by getting a ground ball to the left side, but Neese mishandled the play going to his left allowing both runners to reach safely. One out later SEMO made Auburn pay as Campbell singled up the middle to score two and put Auburn in a 6-3 hole.
The hole would get considerably deeper on this opening day as struggles on the mound from relievers Bradley Hendrix, Sean Ray and Michael Hurst as well as errors on defense contributed to two SEMO runs in the sixth inning and four more runs in the seventh to make it 12-3 heading to the bottom of the seventh.
Auburn finally got something going offensively down nine runs as second baseman Justin Hargett's first hit of the day was a solo homer to right field that made it 12-4 Southeast Missouri State. Simpson continued his solid day as he doubled off the wall in left-center and moved to third after Morris reached on an error. A sacrifice fly from Fletcher scored Simpson to trim the lead to seven.
Things got even more interesting in the eighth as Auburn scored three runs on hits by Simpson, Morris and Fletcher, but that would be it as Adamson came in and closed the door on the Tigers with one and two/thirds of scoreless relief.
Auburn will send junior lefty Grant Dayton to the mound on Saturday looking to get in the win column. Game time is 3 p.m. at Plainsman Park.