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A spirit that is not afraid

Pitching falls apart, Auburn bows out of SEC Tournament against Alabama

Pitcher Konner Copeland ahead of Auburn's baseball game against Alabama at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama, on May 25, 2023.
Pitcher Konner Copeland ahead of Auburn's baseball game against Alabama at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama, on May 25, 2023.

Auburn’s dreams of a deep SEC Tournament run were cut short Thursday evening after rival and No. 9 seed Alabama recorded 14 hits and seven runs in Hoover, Alabama, handing Auburn a 7-4 loss to send the Tigers home.

The 14 hits allowed by the Auburn pitching rotation were the most since Auburn gave up 19 hits to Florida on the road on April 1. The loss continues a streak of now four consecutive SEC Tournaments where Auburn has failed to win multiple games in the tournament.

“Today, we weren’t there mentally, weren’t there physically,” said third baseman Bryson Ware. “We just got to be better, so we can learn from that moving forward.”

Konner Copeland got the nod on the mound Thursday and looked to build off throwing 5 ⅓ innings while only allowing one run in his last start on May 19 against Missouri. However against Alabama, Copeland only survived 3 ⅓ innings while surrendering eight hits, four earned runs and striking out just two. Against Missouri, Copeland allowed just three hits and struck out five.

The Crimson Tide wasted no time getting to Copeland as Tommy Seidl hit a solo blast in the bottom of the first to grab the first run of the game. Seidl’s first at-bat was just the beginning of a big game for the redshirt senior, who recorded three hits, two runs and two RBIs in just four innings before being pulled because of an injury.

Brody Wortham, who was inserted into the Auburn starting lineup for the first time this tournament, tied the game in the second with an RBI single. One walk later, Auburn had the bases loaded with two outs, but was unable to score the go-ahead run as freshman Chris Stanfield struck out to leave three runners stranded.

The runners left on base came back to bite Auburn as Alabama scored four runs over the next two winnings. The Crimson Tide scored two of those runs came with two outs, something Auburn was unable to do just a couple innings before.

“I think we had two outs and the bases loaded and it didn’t happen,” said head coach Butch Thompson. “Just the whole time with two outs, everybody didn’t perform well off seven hours of sleep.

Auburn began to crawl back in the sixth when Ware hit a solo blast to start the inning. The home run broke the program record for homers in a single season with 24, passing Hunter Morris’ mark of 23 which was set in 2010. Morris is currently a volunteer assistant coach at Alabama.

“It’s awesome. It’s really cool to do it at this stage in the SEC Tournament with the good crowd in the stands against Alabama as well makes it a little sweeter,” Ware said. “It’s cool to have Hunter on the other side of the previous record holder. I just couldn’t be more thankful and blessed for the opportunity to hopefully get a little bit more and help my team out.”

Freshman Ike Irish doubled after Ware’s home run, advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and scored a run on a wild pitch to make it a two-run game and give Auburn a huge swing in momentum, but the momentum was quickly grasped back by Alabama.

Tanner Bauman, who came on in relief of Copeland, opened the inning by allowing two singles and hitting a batter with a pitch to load the bases with no outs and was replaced by Will Cannon. Cannon limited the damage by only letting two runners reach home, but it was enough to flip the momentum back to the Crimson Tide.

Auburn scored one more run in the ninth inning after Chris Stanfield walked, stole second and third and was driven in by a Cole Foster single. Irish drew a walk to put two runners on and bring the tying-run to the plate, but an Alabama pitching change to bring in Hunter Hoopes shut down Auburn.

Hoopes struck out Justin Kirby and forced Cooper McMurray to pop up to end the game and Auburn’s time in Hoover. Kirby’s strikeout marked the 13th time a Tiger struck out in the game while 10 of Auburn’s 12 batters in the game were struck out.

Copeland was hit with the loss while Alabama’s Garrett McMillan was awarded the win.

Auburn now awaits its selection for the NCAA Tournament. The selection show is set for 11 a.m. CST on May 29 and will be televised on ESPN2 where the Tigers will find out if they are hosting an NCAA Regional for the second consecutive season.

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Jacob Waters | Sports Editor

Jacob Waters is a senior majoring in journalism. From Leeds, Alabama, he started with The Plainsman in August, 2021.

Twitter: @JacobWaters_

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