Auburn had six hits and four walks in Game 2 of the NCAA Super Regionals, yet the Tigers were shutout in a 2-0 loss to North Carolina. Auburn left nine on base in the game.
The star of Game 2 was UNC relief pitcher Austin Love. He set down 13 of the 15 Tigers he faced. Love (8-4) came in to pitch in the bottom of the fifth after Austin Bergner started for the Tar Heels. Love set down the fist five batters he faced in order.
Auburn started to get something going in the bottom of the eighth, but an overturned call was costly for the Tigers. Conor Davis led off the bottom half of the eighth with a single. Will Holland then hit a ground ball. Initially the only out call came at second on Jarrett Eaton who pinch ran for Davis. Holland was called safe at first.
UNC head coach Mike Fox called for a review of possible interference at second by Eaton. With the original call, Auburn still had one on with one out. After the review, it was decided that Eaton did interfere at second, thus Holland was out as well. Edouard Julien preceeded to strike out, and the inning was over.
Love returned for the ninth and continued to keep the Tigers at bay. Rankin Woley struck out, Steven Williams singled, Matt Scheffler struck out and Kason Howell grounded out. Love pitched 4.2 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out six. The freshman right-hander earned the win.
While Auburn’s offense could not get the momentum it needed, the pitching staff kept the Tar Heels from tacking on the runs.
"We knew this was going to be a war," said Auburn head coach Butch Thompson. "Thankful to get the first game here and did everything in our power except score runs. You're not going to win a game if you can't find a way to score runs."
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Bailey Horn, who was questionable going into today due to illness, got the start for the Tigers. He allowed a single, a walk then balked to start off the game. A single scored two runs. Horn allowed another single and a walk but got two fly outs to end the inning, keeping the damage minimal.
While UNC did consistently get runners on base, Auburn got the big outs to keep the Tar Heels from getting across the plate. UNC left 14 on base.
"We just really couldn't get anything going offensively, but Horn, Watson and Anderson really navigated around a few walks in the ball game, but they never gave up the big hit and I appreciate them for that," Thompson said.
Horn (4-1) pitched 3.1 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and six walks while striking out three. He was credited with the loss. Ryan Watson came in to pitch next for Auburn, and he pitched 2.2 innings of scoreless relief. Watson walked one and allowed three hits with two strike outs.
Elliott Anderson was the final Auburn pitcher to take the mound. In 3.0 innings of scoreless relief pitching, he allowed two hits and two walks while striking out two.
UNC evened the series at 1-1 with the win. The teams will play a winner-take-all Game 3 on Monday at noon CST. The winner of the game moves on to the College World Series. UNC went to Omaha last year, and Auburn has not been since 1997. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
"I think we were locked in, we just missed a ball or two finding a hole," Thompson said. "I think we've come far enough. We know what's on the line and I think that our players will give us everything they've got tomorrow."
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