AUBURN – For junior shortstop Casey McElroy, the loss was disappointing. But the way it happened was maddening.
'No excuse,' says shortstop Casey McElroy
For the third straight week, facing an instate opponent in a midweek game, the Tigers went down without a whimper, falling 8-0 to Samford at Plainsman Park. Last Tuesday, they lost 7-1 to South Alabama. The previous Wednesday, they lost 14-6 at Troy. The weekends have been a different story. The Tigers haver won seven of nine SEC games and are in first place in the West Division.
“I think we have been having really good weekends lately,” said McElroy, Auburn’s leading hitter. “Maybe we’ve just been not really getting up for these midweek games. There’s really no excuse. We should take every game like it’s a championship game. Lately, during the midweek, we haven’t been bringing our A game at all.”
Samford scored four runs in the first inning and three in the third. Auburn hitters made 19 flyball outs and didn’t get a runner to third base until the eighth inning.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” McElroy said. “We want to come out and play well, especially against instate teams. They have bragging rights on us. It’s definitely frustrating when we don’t play well, don’t come out here really ready to play. I think that’s been our problem, not getting out of the gate and putting it to them, giving our best effort.
“It seems like every other dugout during the midweek games has just been really up for the games. We’ve just kind of sat back.”
Samford jumped all over starter Andrew Morris. The Bulldogs laced three doubles in the first inning and scored four runs. In the third, Phillip Ervin smashed a three-run homer far over the left field fence.
Freshman Will Kendall took over for Morris to start the fourth inning and didn’t give up a run until the top of the ninth. But Auburn’s offense remained stuck in neutral. Samford had 13 hits, seven in the first three innings. Auburn had just six, two by Kevin Patterson.
The Tigers fell to 22-18. They play Texas Southern at Plainsman Park tonight before heading to South Carolina for an important weekend series.
Auburn coach John Pawlowski shared McElroy’s frustration when it was over.
“It’s just frustrating,” Pawlowski said. “You struggle right at the beginning of the game. We didn’t get anything going offensively, or pitching early in the game. I firmly believe it starts with the guys on the mound. When you get behind that quickly, it’s just a totally different mindset.”