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Tigers swept away

AUBURN – Auburn’s baseball nosedive picked up speed Sunday afternoon at Plainsman Park.

Derel Varnadore fires on Vanderbilt/Leffie Dailey photo

No. 1 Vanderbilt broke a 2-2 tie with four runs in the eighth inning and beat the Tigers 6-2 to sweep the weekend series. It was Vanderbilt’s first-ever sweep at Plainsman Park and ended a weekend of misery for Auburn.

The Tigers, swept last weekend at Mississippi State, were victimized by big innings late in all three games. They lost their sixth consecutive Southeastern Conference game and fell to 15-13 overall and 2-7 in the league. Vanderbilt improved to 26-3 and 7-2.

Auburn coach John Pawlowski said the Tigers, who play at Troy on Tuesday at Kentucky next weekend, must move on.

“We have not gotten off to the start that we had hoped for,” Pawlowski said. “Vanderbilt is a very good team, and when you have opportunities you have to seize those opportunities. We didn't that this weekend.

“Now we have to find a way to regroup. We have some guys that need to improve. We need to look at everything and evaluate everything. We’ll get better. I’m confident in this team and the guys.”

Auburn starter Derek Varnadore was in trouble in the first inning but limited the damage to two runs. Auburn tied the game at 2-2 on Wes Gilmer’s two-run single in the fourth. But Vanderbilt scored four in the seventh and Auburn didn’t threaten again.

Shortstop Casey McElroy said Auburn players can’t dwell on the past.

“The best thing for us to do right now is to flush it and get our minds right,” McElroy said. “We’re just not playing well right now. We’ve got to put everything together. We know it’s a long season.”

Ethan Wallen, who relieved Varnadore in the sixth inning, gave up four runs on three hits and suffered the loss. Will Clinard, the third of five Vanderbilt pitchers, gave up one hit in 1 2/3 innings and got the win.

Dan Gamache had three hits for Auburn. Gilmer had two.

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