While attempting to become the first team in college baseball to reach 20 wins this season, No. 6 Auburn came up short against Georgia Tech on Tuesday night in Atlanta.
The Tigers (19-3) fell 6-4 to the Yellow Jackets (12-8) to drop their second straight game. It marked the fourth straight year the two teams have split the season series after Auburn won game one 12-7 at Plainsman Park last Tuesday.
Despite coming from behind to win nine times thus far in 2018, the Tigers could not cut all the way into an early six-run deficit.
Georgia Tech built most of its lead with five runs on seven hits in the fourth inning, where its lineup chased Auburn starting pitcher Jack Owen (0-1) from the game after he allowed six earned runs in 3.1 innings. The frame was highlighted by freshman Michael Guldberg’s three-run home run to right center.
“I hope it’s a good gut check for our guys to know they can’t just roll their gloves out,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “They got themselves in position to win some ballgames by coming out and attacking and we actually got attacked tonight.”
As relievers Elliot Anderson, Ryan Watson and Corey Herndon kept the game in check by combining for 4.2 scoreless innings, the Tigers’ bats woke up in what has continued to be their best inning: the eighth.
Auburn pushed across its first three runs of the game in the eighth inning on singles by Judd Ward and Will Holland and is now outscoring opponents 32-4 in the eighth inning of games this season.
“That’s a six-run game at the end of four innings, 6-0, and it ends 6-4. That lets you know how good the bullpen did the fifth through the eighth inning to keep them at bay and give us a chance,” Thompson said.
“You always learn something from a game, a win or a loss, and we got punched in the mouth for about seven innings tonight.”
The Tigers rallied further in the ninth with a two-out RBI single by Jay Estes, but Brett Wright eventually grounded out to third to end the game.
Freshman Brant Hurter (1-1) picked up his first career win after five scoreless innings, while head coach Danny Hall also earned his 1,000th victory at Georgia Tech.
Auburn will continue a five-game stretch away from Plainsman Park when they travel to face No. 8 Kentucky for a three-game series over the weekend. Casey Mize (5-0) is expected to be on the mound for the Tigers in game one which begins at 5:30 p.m. CT on Friday.