AUBURN – A popup lost in the lights became a three-run double and Eastern Illinois scored six runs after two were out in the ninth inning and held on to beat Auburn 11-10 on Friday at Plainsman Park.
Auburn shortstop Dan Glevenyak turns a double play/Todd Van Emst photo
“Ugly,” Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. “We didn’t do the things we needed to do to win.”
The Tigers (6-3) seemed to have the game in hand when they scored five runs in the fifth inning to take a 7-1 lead. Eastern Illinois, after all, came to town with a 2-5 record, two losses to Texas Southern and one to Jackson State.
This series was supposed to be an Auburn sweep. It was scheduled in the spot that was going to be filled by Arizona before Pawlowski made the decision to lighten his schedule.
Auburn pitchers issued three walks in the sixth inning, giving up four runs and giving Eastern Illinois hope. It got a lot worse in the ninth. Terrance Dedrick, on to close the game, struck out two batters but walked three. It seemed he had escaped when Treysan Vanra lifted a towering popup to the right side. But second baseman Jordan Ebert couldn’t find it. Neither could right fielder Jackson Burgreen. The ball fell to the turf and three runs scored.
Jay Wade finally got out of the inning, but not until Eastern Illinois had scored two more runs to go up 11-7. Auburn scored three times in the bottom of the ninth but left the winning run on second when Dan Glevenyak’s hard line drive was caught for the third out.
Auburn’s bullpen, its strength for much of the season, walked seven batters and hit one.
“You can’t give up free bases,” Pawlowski said. “When you give up free bases and don’t do the things you are capable of doing, it’s going to be tough. They took advantage of our walks, had a chance to win and they did.”
Auburn had 14 hits. Ryan Tella, Damek Tomscha, Cullen Wacker and Garrett Cooper had two hits apiece. Cooper had a triple and Wacker a double.
Starter Daniel Koger left win the lead but came up empty for the second straight time. He pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up four hits and four runs. He left with one out in the sixth with a 7-2 lead.
Conner Kendrick breezed through the eighth inning for Auburn, throwing just 10 pitches. But Pawlowski decided to go with Dedrick in the ninth. And one that should have been won got away.
The two teams meet again Saturday at 3 p.m. in the second game of a three-game series.