No. 23 Auburn suffered defeat on a walk-off homerun, giving No. 18 Vanderbilt the opportunity to steal the deciding win, 3-2.
“Grant (Dayton) did a great job,” said coach John Pawlowski. “I feel so bad for him and for our whole club. We battled hard today, but we couldn’t get anything going offensively.”
Pawlowski said the team wanted to do well when they got out of the gates, but the beginning of the game didn’t go in the Tiger’s favor and gave the team their first loss on Friday evening.
“Their pitcher threw an outstanding game and there were two very good pitchers going at it toe-to-toe,” Pawlowski said. “One mistake and that’s the difference.”
According to auburntigers.com, Auburn narrowed the gap to 4-2 in the top of the third on junior Justin Fradejas’ RBI single and an error by Vanderbilt left fielder Bryan Harris, only to have Vanderbilt answer with a second consecutive four-run inning in the bottom of the third, knocking junior Cole Nelson from the game with a 5-0 lead and runners on first and second and one out. Vanderbilt used just three of its 12 hits in the inning but also took advantage of three of the six walks Auburn issued on the night to go up 8-2 at the end of three.
Although the Tigers were bested Friday, the team came back harder and stronger for the next matchup.
Sophomore Cory Luckie’s complete game five-hitter was just what Auburn needed, which tied its SEC series Vanderbilt with a 12-2 win Saturday afternoon. Brian Fletcher, junior, hit his 11th and 12th
homeruns and drove in four runs as Auburn improved to 24-12, 8-6 SEC.
Fletcher said the team wanted to put the ball in play and make something happen.
“Luckily I was able to do it (in the second), putting one over and giving us three runs,” Fletcher said.
The boards were tied up Saturday evening after the Tigers conquered the Commodores, 12-2.
Although the series seemed to pick up for Tiger fans, Vanderbilt wasn’t going down without a fight. The Commodores battled Auburn until the end of an exhausting game Sunday, which eventually left Auburn defeated.
“It wasn’t one pitch, it wasn’t one play and it wasn’t one swing that caused us not to win today, it was a culmination of a lot of different things,” Pawlowski said.
Luckie (4-2) missed last year after having Tommy John surgery (or ulnar collateral ligament reconstru tion) and seemed an unlikely candidate to shut down Vanderbilt, given his pregame 8.39 ERA. He wasn’t named the starter until after Friday’s game, according to tennessean.com.
“Anytime you can throw three pitches for strikes and keep the ball down, you’re going to be successful,” Luckie said. “This is the first time I really felt comfortable.”
The Tigers take on Troy University’s Trojans at Plainsman Park Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.