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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn Baseball drops series opener to Ole Miss

The Tigers fell into an early deficit they could not overcome as their pitching continued to struggle  in a 11-7 loss in the first game of the series against Ole Miss on Friday night.

“They got two big swings off, two three-run homers, and we didn’t,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “I think the hits were about even, 14-13, but I don’t think we had an extra-base hit. That was the biggest difference to me in the ballgame. We didn’t get the big hit to keep pace.”

Ole Miss jumped out to a quick 1-0 in the top of the first inning when Jackson Ross hit a solo home run over the left field wall. 

Auburn quickly responded in the bottom of the second inning after a Carter Wright single, the first of his four hits, and Cade Belyeu's walk allowed Caden Green to hit a ball to the right side of the infield, resulting in an error and a 1-1 ball game. 

The bottom of the second was the last time the game was tied as the Rebels instantly regained the lead and hit their first of two three-run home runs of the day to jump out to a 5-1 lead in the top of the third inning. 

The Tigers brought the game back within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with a Mason Manners RBI single and two more runs, scoring on the second Ole Miss error of the game.

However, the 5-4 score was the last time Auburn was within one run of the Rebels, and Ole Miss followed Auburn's three-run inning with a four-run inning of their own as the Rebels WIll Furniss hit their second three-run home run of the game. 

Both teams traded runs in the seventh and scored two runs in the ninth inning, but Auburn failed to match the Rebels in offensive output as their pitching struggled. 

Starting pitcher Dylan Watts earned the loss after three innings and five earned runs allowed. 

After Watts left the game after the third inning, the Tigers relied on their bullpen, which included Christian Herberholz, Will Cannon, Drew Nelson, and Hayden Murphy. 

Nelson is the only Tiger not to allow a run, as the team combined for 11 strikeouts. 

In the losing effort, the starting catcher, Wright, went 4-for-4 at the plate and tallied four singles — doubling his season-high in hits. His previous high was recorded just last Sunday, April 28 at LSU with two hits in Auburn's most recent SEC win.

“He’s playing great,” Thompson said of Wright. “I thought he caught a great game tonight, had four hits kind of sprayed. You can tell he’s in a great approach. They’re just head high, hard line drives finding holes. He’s playing great for us.”

Wright wasn’t the only Tiger that tallied singles, as all 13 of Auburn’s hits were singles. Auburn only had two fewer hits than Ole Miss but stranded 15 base runners nine more than the Rebels. 

With only three conference wins, Auburn could be on the wrong side of history. The Tigers have recorded double-digit conference wins all but twice since 2000 — the most recent being an 8-22 conference record in 2016. 

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Auburn’s conference play struggles continue. The Tigers dropped to 21-23 overall and 3-19 in conference play. 

LSU and Auburn are scheduled for the second game of the series on Saturday, May 4 with first pitch set for 7 p.m. CST and television coverage on the SEC Network. 

Craig Noyes | Sports Writer

Craig Noyes is a junior from Kensington, Maryland, majoring in journalism. He joined The Plainsman in January 2023.

Twitter: @craignoyes58

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