Despite seven innings from starting pitcher Jack Owen and a game-tying home run from Ryan Bliss, the Tigers could not complete the comeback against Florida on Friday night. A pair of runs in the ninth inning propelled Florida to a 4-2 victory, extending the Gators’ win streak to seven.
"I thought it was a great college baseball game headed to the last couple frames,” said head coach Butch Thompson. ‘That was about as good as Jack Owen has thrown for us. Fabian, their best player, got off a swing. After that, I think Jack and our guys handled them well. Florida earned everything they got off of him, which was just two runs."
Before the game, Auburn honored one of its alumni players, proclaiming Friday as Joe Beckwith Day. Beckwith, who grew up in Auburn and played college baseball for the Tigers, went on to pitch in the MLB and won two World Series titles in his career.
“I want to say thank you to our fans,” Thompson said. “They were in the seats early. [Beckwith] legacy in regards to our program and fans showed up to honor him. It was a good day for him, it was great seeing him.”
Opening the series on the mound for Auburn was Owen, who threw seven innings of two-run ball. The Aliso Viejo, California, native allowed seven hits, struck out seven and walked none.
He ran into trouble early, allowing two singles to lead off the first inning before inducing a double play and striking out Florida’s Jud Fabian to end the inning. Owen tossed a pair of perfect innings before Fabian avenged his first-inning strikeout with his at-bat in the fourth.
With a runner on first, Fabian hit a drive to deep center field. The Auburn outfielders could do nothing but watch as the ball sailed over the scoreboard in center.
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Fabian’s 430-ft blast gave the Gators a 2-0 lead heading to the bottom of the fourth inning.
It was the last run that Owen allowed all evening.
In the bottom of the seventh, Auburn's bats came alive.
Kason Howell continued to show his power with a leadoff double that hit the green monster in left field. A groundout and strikeout later, Bliss stepped in the box with two outs.
The shortstop belted one to left field that cleared the wall and tied the game.
Trace Bright tossed a scoreless eighth for the Tigers, but the ninth inning was not kind to the sophomore.
Bright walked the second batter he faced in the ninth and Florida’s Colby Halter stepped up to the plate. Halter then drove one over Howell’s head in center field, scoring the go-ahead run and finding himself at third base with a triple.
He scored on a single later in the inning, adding an insurance run. Auburn went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.
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