Oh, yes, Auburn's Anfernee Grier makes the catch against LSU in the SEC Tournament
By Charles Goldberg
HOOVER, Ala. -- Designated hitter Jordan Ebert said it hurt Auburn couldn't hold its early lead against top-ranked LSU, but added the Tigers found something they could carry forward from a 9-8 loss Wednesday night at the SEC Tournament.
Auburn left the game talking about more post-season play, and not just Thursday's 1 p.m. third-round conference tournament game against Florida, which lost to Arkansas 7-6 after playing late into the night, and finishing around 1:30 a.m., at the Hoover Met.
Ebert and coach Sunny Golloway were talking about next week's NCAAs.
"If that's the best team in the country," Ebert said of LSU, "we've got a good shot to go do some things a lot of people didn't think we could do. I know our team is taking this more of a positive, and it really shows us we're better than we think we are."
Auburn fell to 35-23 overall and 1-1 in the SEC Tournament. LSU improved to 47-9 in its tournament opener.
Auburn started fast, leading 5-0 after the first and 8-3 in the fifth. Relentless LSU took the lead in a six-run fifth, and, from start to finish, used seven pitchers to make sure it would win.
"You've got to take this and learn from it and bounce back tomorrow," said Auburn catcher Blake Logan.
The game started with great promise for Auburn. The Tigers led 5-0 after the first inning thanks to an RBI single by Logan, a 2-run single by Alex Polston that missed by a couple of feet of being a grand slam and a 2-run double by Cody Nulph.
But LSU scored three in the second, and the game was on.
Auburn stretched its lead to 7-3 on an Ebert 2-run double in the third and made it 8-3 on a Melvin Gray sacrifice fly in the fourth. But LSU scored six in the bottom of the fifth for a 9-8 lead.
Those 17 total runs stood. Neither scored in the final four innings.
"I thought our guys did a tremendous job getting the lead, attacking their starting pitchers and did the things we wanted to," Golloway said.
Auburn had eight runs through four innings and "you can't really ask much more of an offense," Golloway said.
But LSU has "a lot of firepower," Golloway added. "They're the No. 1 team in the country for a reason."
Either way, Golloway said the SEC Tournament has been good for his Tigers as they hope to continue play in next week's NCAA Tournament.
"The things that are important at this point of the season: Make sure your starting pitchers are doing a good job, feel good about them going into next weekend," he said. "Sure, you want to win the SEC Tournament, you want to stay in the winners' bracket, but what's truly important is to train a program and get a program to Omaha, is to make sure you're in tournaments like this that your starting pitching does a good job, the offense is clicking, the defense is playing well.
"The good things so far is Cole Lipscomb and Rocky McCord got their starts and they'll be in rhythm next week."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine