March 27, 2014
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Sunny Golloway isn't sure if the bright lights of a national television audience got in their eyes, but something surely sidetracked the Auburn baseball team Thursday night in Plainsman Park.
The Tigers committed four errors, made a couple of base running errors and saw a sixth-inning lead slip away in a 4-3 loss to Missouri in front of 4,096 fans.
The night started with on a happy note, with new basketball coach cracking wise with players in the dugout before he threw the ceremonial first pitch. But Golloway said the Tigers, after that, may have been caught up by the ESPNU coverage, or that the players were trying to do too much.
"I think it ended up working against us," he said. "I don't think our guys played very calm, very poised I think Missouri played more poised than we did in front of what was a hostile crowd for them."
Auburn fell to 18-9 overall and 4-3 in the SEC. Missouri improved to 12-12 overall and 2-5 in the league.
Missouri's two runs in the seventh that tied the game were unearned.
"It was a different team than what I've seen," Golloway said.
"We were hoping these were behind us, but they're not. The good news is we know we can play better."
But this Thursday it was "a lot of errors."
"I haven't seen us have that many miscues defensively. It's got to be about pitching and defense, and we didn't do that. We've got 3-1 lead, and defensively we created an error, and on the pitching side we walked a guy hitting .151 in the nine hole. The next guy did drive the ball down in the corner, and we made a bad play."
Logan Pearson drove in the two runs in the seventh to tie Auburn. Dylan Kelly's sacrifice fly in the eighth turned out to be the game-winner. Auburn got RBIs from Damek Toscha, Keegan Thompson and Sam Gillikin.
Dillon Ortman fell to 5-2 after allowing four runs, but only two earned, in seven innings.
"I thought he pitched well. If the outcome was 3-1 we'd be talking about how well he pitched. I thought his outing was fine," Golloway said.
"We've got to make these guys understand the margin in winning and losing in this league is very, very thin."
Auburn will try to start doing that in Friday's 6 p.m. game against Missouri in Plainsman Park. Thompson, who is 5-0 with a sporty 0.78 ERA, will face John Miles, who is 2-2 with a 5.57 ERA. Saturday's series finale is at noon.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine