MOBILE – At least Auburn won’t lose another midweek game to an instate team.
Andrew Morris lasted just one-third of an inning.
In their final nonconference game of the regular season, the Tigers fell behind 6-0 at South Alabama on Tuesday and lost 8-1 without mounting serious threat at a comeback at Stanky Field. It was the final installment of a bizarre story.
While Auburn was winning six of nine Southeastern Conference series and five of its last seven, it went 2-5 against non-SEC teams from the state of Alabama. And most of them weren’t close.
Tuesday’s game followed the script.
The Jaguars lit up struggling starter Andrew Morris, who gave up three hits in just one third of an inning. Meanwhile, the Tigers didn’t manage a hit off South Alabama starter Jarrett Bailey, who entered the game with a 15.0 ERA, until the fifth inning. Two Auburn errors also led to South Alabama runs.
In two losses to South Alabama, Auburn was outscored 15-2.
Auburn coach John Pawlowski did not hide his disappointment and frustration.
We were sloppy all the way around the horn,” Pawlowski said. “We just didn’t play very well. We didn’t pitch verywell, especially to start the game, and then offensively we couldn’t manufacture anything. It’s very disappointing.”
Trailing 6-0, Auburn threatened in the fifth, loading the bases with on two walks and a hit. Swinging at the first pitch, Dan Gamache grounded into a double play. Casey McElroy finally got the Tigers on the board with a leadoff homer in the sixth, but the Tigers left two more runners on. They went quietly after that, finishing the game with just four hits of three South Alabama pitchers.
The Tigers turn now to their final SEC series of the season and an opportunity to win the West Division championship at Tennessee, last in the East and overall. But there is more at stake than that At 28-25, the Tigers still are not guaranteed of finishing with a winning overall record, which is required to get into an NCAA regional.
Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi State are tied for first in the West with 13-14 records. Auburn's series at Tennessee begins Thursday night.