Bullpen Falters In 9-8 Loss At No. 2 Arizona State
March 12, 2010
TEMPE, Ariz. - Auburn built a five-run lead at No. 2 Arizona State on Friday night but the bullpen couldn't hold the lead as Auburn fell, 9-8, at Packard Stadium in Tempe. Arizona State answered Auburn's five-run top of the fifth with six runs in the bottom half of the frame, snapping Auburn's six-game winning streak in the process.
"We have to find a way to bridge the gap between our starter and the end of the game. I thought that was the difference today," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "We had a 7-2 lead and against a good team you have to keep the momentum in your dugout. Arizona State put some good swings together (in the fifth) and we gave them some base runners and they took the lead."
Auburn (-3) starter Cory Luckie departed after giving Auburn a solid 4 1/3 innings, leaving with Auburn up 7-4 but with a pair of runners on. Zach Blatt entered and could only retire one of the six batters he faced, leaving after allowing three hits, a walk and a hit batter, leaving with Auburn on the wrong side of an 8-7 score. Luckie was charged for six runs on eight hits and three walks, striking out three.
Kevin Patterson put some life back into Auburn when he crushed an eighth-inning, pinch-hit home run to center, tying the game at 8-8 and taking Blatt off the hook but Arizona State answered by scoring an unearned run in the bottom half of the eighth on a RBI groundout, taking the series-opening win.
Jordan Swagerty picked up his fourth save of the season by striking out the side in the top half of the ninth, going through the two, three and four hitters in Auburn's lineup.
Sean Ray (0-1) was the hard-luck loser for Auburn despite retiring the first seven hitters he faced and not allowing a hit. The southpaw was snake bitten by an Auburn fielding error to start the eighth which led to the game-winning run.
Jake Barrett (1-0) earned his first win of the season despite surrendering Patterson's monster blast.
Arizona State (13-0) took a 2-0 lead in the second on a Deven Marrero RBI double and a Drew Maggie sac fly before Casey McElroy's first home run of the year tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fourth. The sophomore smashed the first pitch of his at-bat over the fence in center following a Brian Fletcher single to right that extended the junior's hitting streak to 17 games dating to last season.
Auburn pounced on Arizona State for five unearned runs in the top of the fifth to take a 7-2 lead, capitalizing on a pair of Arizona State errors to start the inning. Creede Simpson's one-out double scored Justin Bryant and Dan Gamache, both of which reached on ASU fielding errors. A Hunter Morris single scored Simpson and then a blast to right by Fletcher gave Auburn a seemingly commanding five run lead. The home run by Fletcher was the seventh of the season and the 34th of the year for the outfielder.
Arizona State answered Auburn's five-run inning with six runs of its own to reclaim the lead, 8-7. Arizona State tagged Blatt for a single and a double, he hit a batter and issued a bases-loaded walk, turning the tables in Arizona State's favor before Ray got Auburn out of the inning only down a run after entering with the bases loaded.
Auburn will try and even the series up on Saturday at 6:30pm MT, sending Jr. LHP Cole Nelson (3-0, 1.40) to the hill against Arizona State's Jr. RHP Merrill Kelly (3-0, 4.20).
Arizona State 9, Auburn 8 (Mar 12, 2010 at Tempe, AZ)
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