HOOVER, Ala. — It was a somber affair in the media room after Auburn’s 4-3 loss to LSU.
A play that is almost unbelievable ended Auburn’s time in the SEC Tournament.
“Unusual, tough way to lose it,” was how head coach Butch Thompson opened his statement.
Auburn's Brooks Fuller came in to pitch the ninth, after Cody Greenhill allowed runners to get to second and third with one out. Fuller threw two pitches. The first was a breaking ball into the dirt. The second was a repeat of the first. Matt Scheffler lost the second ball, though.
While he was searching for it, the tying run scored from first. Rankin Woley came in to assist, and with the runner from second trying to get home, Woley attempted to throw the ball back to home plate, but it was off target.
The winning run scored as LSU walked it off on a wild pitch and Auburn’s error. Auburn was eliminated from the tournament and now awaits its fate for the NCAA Regionals.
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“Not with the two runs,” Thompson said when asked if he had experienced losing on a play like that before. “I mean we’ve had it with the one run cause you work on that so much with your catchers. I mean you gotta be a wall back there cause you definitely want your pitcher to trust, to be able to throw his best pitch. But that second runner scoring, not as much…. If it’s happened it’s been a long time.”
Auburn fought hard to take the lead going into the ninth. After being behind 0-1 through six innings, it got its offense going in the top of the seventh. Rankin Woley reached on a LSU error, Devin Warner singled and Howell singled to get the tying run across the plate. Judd Ward doubled and Auburn took the 2-1 lead. LSU tied it back up at 2-2 on the bottom half of the inning.
Auburn retook the lead at 3-2 in the top of the eighth on a Scheffler double and Edouard Julien’s single. Greenhill had taken the mound in the sixth and returned to try to finish out the game.
Things got rocky immediately with back-to-back singles from LSU to lead off the inning. Saul Garza hit the second single, and he advanced to second on the throw, putting two runners in scoring position.
“I thought that was a huge play,” Thompson said. “Judd believes in his arm so much, the throw was just a little bit high. Will Holland was able to cut it at second base, but I thought was huge with that runner getting to second base with no outs. It wound up being true.”
That throw, Auburn not getting a run across in the first inning with the bases loaded and the confusion on the final play were the big regrets for the Auburn Tigers.
“I think there’s a significance to not being able to scratch something in the first inning in today’s ballgame,” Thompson said. “That could have changed the outcome, the entire rhythm of the contest.”
Auburn will get some time off before going to Regionals if it gets selected to the tournament. Thompson hopes the rest will help his team regroup and recover.
“I think the rest will be good for our ball club,” Thompson said. “… This does give us a chance to do that, and reset. I think that helps our club.”
Auburn will find out on Monday if they are advancing to the Regionals. Regionals last from May 31 - June 3. The tournament is a double elimination set up with 16 four-team brackets.
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