AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn split its seven-inning doubleheader with No. 10 Florida Sunday at Plainsman Park. The Tigers defeated the Gators, 10-8, in game one before falling, 6-4, in game two.
“We’ve just got to keep working, and we’re at a point in time where it’s not necessarily this weekend, but it’s a cumulative effect of where we have to win every series,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “That makes it disappointing to split a double header because you need it, and you need it in a big way. We’ll keep competing.”
Auburn (17-20, 3-15 SEC) responded from a four-run deficit to win game one and battled back from two runs down in game two, but Florida (28-12, 11-7 SEC) used three runs in its last two at-bats to win the finale and claim the series.
After Richard Fitts struck out the side in the top of the first, Auburn wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard as Ryan Bliss reached on a leadoff error and Tyler Miller gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead on his 12th home run of the season two pitches later.
Fitts didn’t allow a hit until the top of the third when Florida cut into the advantage with a solo homer to lead off the frame. The Gators added three more off the Auburn starter to take a 4-2 lead. Carson Skipper entered in relief with one out and two runners in scoring position and minimized the damage to a run on a sacrifice fly.
Florida extended its lead with two more unearned runs in the fourth, but Auburn got both back on a RBI single from Ryan Bliss and Florida error to make it 6-4.
Joseph Gonzalez turned in a shutout frame in his first inning of relief in the fifth, and Auburn’s offense exploded for six runs on seven hits to take the lead in the bottom half. Steven Williams got things going with a solo home run to right field – his ninth of the season – and Cam Hill gave the Tigers the lead on a two-run homer two batters later – his fifth of the year. Bliss, Miller and Rankin Woley turned in three straight one-out RBI singles to extend the lead to 10-6 and cap off the six-run frame.
Gonzalez retired five straight Gators in the sixth and seventh and narrowly missed a called strike three that would’ve resulted in a 1-2-3 final frame, but the inning continued and Florida scored a pair of runs to cut the lead to 10-8. Will Morrison entered in relief of Gonzalez with two outs and a runner on second and used a strikeout to end the game.
Gonzalez (1-3, 7.94) earned his first career win while Morrison recorded his first career save.
Four Auburn players in Bliss, Miller, Brody Moore and Hill recorded multiple hits in the game. Miller also drove in multiple runs for the 14th time this season.
Similar to game one, Auburn jumped out to a lead in the first inning. Moore stepped to the plate with one out and the bases loaded and laced a RBI groundout to first base to drive in the game’s first run. Florida escaped the inning without further damage thanks to a diving play at third base.
Peyton Glavine made his second career start, including his first SEC start, and faced one over the minimum through three. However, Florida started the fourth with a solo home run and took the lead on a two-run homer from Jud Fabian two batters later.
Auburn battled back to tie the game, 3-3, by loading the bases and getting a pair of RBI groundouts from Hill and Kason Howell in the bottom of the fourth.
Mason Barnett (2-3, 3.75) entered in relief of Glavine in the fourth and retired the first seven batters he faced. Florida put a pair of runners in scoring position with one out in the sixth and scored the go-ahead run on a comebacker to the pitcher that resulted in a throwing error to the plate.
The Gators added two insurance runs that proved to be the difference in the game on a pair of RBI singles in the top of the seventh.
The Tigers threated in its final at-bat, putting its first two batter aboard on a hit-by-pitch and walk and bringing the tying run to the plate with nobody out. Both runners moved into scoring position on a one-out wild pitch, and Miller then drove in his fourth run of the game on a groundout to second. However, the game ended on a ground ball to short.
Auburn continues SEC play with a trip to Georgia from Thursday-Saturday this week.
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