By the time starting first baseman Daniel Robert took the mound Sunday afternoon, May 10, Plainsman Park was mostly empty and Auburn’s fate sealed.
The Tigers committed five errors, walked seven batters and allowed 16 hits in a 14-4 loss to the Crimson Tide that sealed a road sweep for Auburn’s bitter rivals.
What was a two-run ball game erupted in the ninth inning when the Crimson Tide scored eight runs to put any doubt as to the final outcome to bed.
“Clearly the scoreboard is not going to be as indicative of what the score was,” coach Sunny Golloway said. “My concern, with my history in college baseball, is that the committee is just going to look at the final score. When you’re looking at the last 10 games played, this one is going to pop up.”
The Tigers fell behind 3-0 in the second inning, then fell victim once again to Alabama catcher Will Haynie, who crushed a two-run home run, his second of the series.
Robert plated a couple runs in the bottom of the sixth inning with a triple, before Damon Haecker brought him home to cut the deficit to 5-3.
The Tigers surrendered another run in the seventh, but loaded the bases with one out in their half of the inning.
After a Melvin Gray pop out, Golloway pinch hit Sam Gillikin in favor of leading hitter Anfernee Grier, who had struck out in seven consecutive prior at bats.
“We needed to take him out,” Golloway said. “He’d struck out seven consecutive times. I don’t think you’re doing any player justice after he’s struck out seven consecutive times. Sometimes you’ve got to give him a break right there and help him out.”
Gillikin would walk to cut the deficit to 6-4, but Alabama center fielder Georgie Salem would make a diving play in left-center to end the bases-loaded threat.
The Tigers wouldn’t threaten again, and the Crimson Tide took full control in the ninth with the help of several errors, wild pitches and hit batters from the Auburn infield.
It was a problem all weekend as errors were committed by third baseman Kyler Deese, shortstop Cody Nulph, second baseman Gray and the first baseman Robert.
“I don’t see a whole lot of leadership on the infield,” Golloway said. “We were out of position on some bunt defense and were surprised by the delayed steal.”
With one last home game on the schedule, Golloway said he would consider several shakeups to his lineup.
The first of those included bringing Haecker back to the infield. Haecker has played across the diamond this season, but spent the majority of his time in the outfield recently.
Golloway said Haecker’s leadership and versatility are the prime reasons he is considering the change.
“He’s the closest thing to a leader that we have and if I bring Hack back in, it’d be a major move late in the year,” Golloway said. “A major move to put him at short or put him at third."
Reports circulated of an on-field altercation before the game. Golloway said that he was aware of the situation but would not comment on the details.
The Tigers will return to Plainsman Park for a midweek contest against Morehead State before traveling to Gainesville, Florida, to take on the Florida Gators in their regular-season finale.