Fielding errors and pitching contributed to Auburn’s 5-1 loss to No. 12 Kentucky on Sunday, as the Wildcats avoided a sweep in Auburn.
“I’ll always go back to that pitching and defense put you in a position to win the game, but the only way you can win the game is on offense,” Auburn head coach Mickey Dean said. “Our defense did not give us an opportunity to win the game.”
Auburn pitcher Shelby Lowe started well for the Tigers, garnering two strikeouts and not allowing any hits on six batters faced in the first two innings. In the top of the third inning, Lowe walked a Kentucky batter, who then scored on a throwing error by Lowe. A flyout later in the inning gave the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.
“I thought [Lowe] had a great game,” Dean said, “She hurt herself defensively when she threw the ball away, but they really didn’t do anything to really put a chink in the armor. If we play clean ball, it’s a 1-1 ballgame going into the sixth and seventh.”
Auburn had chances throughout the game to take a lead, most notably in the bottom of the third inning. With two runners on, Auburn’s Sydney Cox was walked to set up a bases-loaded situation with two outs. Lindsey Garcia would strike out the next at bat, leaving three runners on base for the Tigers. Auburn left eight runners on base throughout the game, compared to the four that Kentucky left on base.
“We hope [leaving runners on base] doesn’t happen, and you keep working on things like that,” Dean said. “When you face the pitching that you face in the SEC, you’re going to see that a lot.”
The Wildcats would add on three more runs in the sixth inning, supported by a fielding error by Auburn’s Alyssa Rivera which allowed two runs and an RBI single by Kentucky’s Erin Coffel to give the Wildcats a 5-0 lead.
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“It’s a 1-1 ballgame going into the sixth and seventh inning if we play defense,” Dean said. “We just didn’t play good defense, so instead of it being a 1-1 ballgame in the sixth or seventh it’s a 5-1 ballgame.”
Rivera hit a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to give Auburn its lone run of the day.
“[Rivera] was able to regroup and not take something bad and carry it with her,” Dean said. “I just wish we were able to do that more today.”
Auburn batters flew out, grounded out and lined out to end the game. The Tigers finished with six hits and two errors in the 5-1 loss, and dropped to 25-13 on the year with a 5-10 conference record.
Auburn will face the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Wednesday in their final midweek game of the season. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. in Chattanooga.
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