Cole Lipscomb's strong start for Auburn limited Alabama to one hit in the first six innings
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Coach Sunny Golloway says Auburn can still achieve its goal of winning a weekend series against Alabama, and that a 4-2 loss to the Tide on Friday night doesn't change what's at stake for the Tigers.
Auburn will be looking to bounce back in Saturday's 3 p.m. game in Plainsman Park, now hoping to beat the Tide then and then in Sunday's 1 p.m. game, to take its fifth SEC series of the year. The Tigers will then finish its SEC season at Florida next weekend, hoping to do well enough to win an NCAA regional host site.
Rocky McCord is graduating, and pitching for Auburn on Saturday. He's 5-3 with a 3.34 ERA. He'll face Jake Walters, who is 4-3 with a 2.45 ERA.
"What I told our team was, 'We entered the series to win the series. We have to win two out of three here to have a chance at Florida to host. It doesn't matter which two you win. You have to win the series,'" Golloway said.
Alabama's Chance Vincent and Will Haynie hit home runs on consecutive pitches in the ninth for the win in front of a capacity crowd of 4,096 in Plainsman Park. Auburn, which had won 11 of its previous 13 games, fell to 32-18 overall and 12-13 in the SEC. Alabama improved to 26-24 overall and 9-16 in the league.
The ninth inning was crucial, but Auburn had squandered opportunities before that, including not scoring in the sixth when they had runners on second and third with nobody out. The Tigers left 11 on base.
"The bottom of the sixth was really the key. We were up 1-0... when we didn't push the runs across, that swung the momentum," Golloway said.
Auburn scored in the first when Anfernee Grier drove in Kyler Deese and that stood up as pitcher Cole Lipscomb limited Alabama to one hit in the first six innings. But Alabama scored two in the seventh on five hits, but Auburn tied it up in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Melvin Gray.
"We battled back and tied it up. I thought that was really good on our part," Golloway said. "It showed a lot of character.
"The two home runs were very surprising. Our guys continued to fight in the bottom of the ninth. We just came up short. We'll be tested tomorrow. This is where that mental toughness will really come into play."
Thomas Burrows was the winner to improve to 1-3. Trey Wingenter fell to 1-5.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine