AUBURN — The struggles in conference play have continued for Auburn. After taking game one in Tuscaloosa 8-4, the Tigers(20-15-1, 5-10 SEC) were outscored 10-3 in the final two contests, dropping both to the Crimson Tide (26-11, 6-9 SEC) and the series overall.

With the losses this weekend, Auburn has dropped eight of its last 10, and the Tigers have not won a weekend series since March 24. Head coach Butch Thompson's message to the team remains clear.

“You’re playing your rival,” Thompson said. “You’ve got to be able to wear it. If you’re not where you want to be, you’ve got to keep fighting and keep going, take care of each other, keep practicing hard until we can grow, get better and be more competitive in this league.”

The series started on the right note, with Auburn jumping out to 2-0 lead in the second inning and holding Alabama scoreless through eight innings. The shutout was led by Tommy Vail, who pitched 6.2 innings, giving up two hits and four walks while recording four strikeouts.

“We needed somebody to step up,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “It was his best outing. It was clean, it was efficient, it was great baseball. We needed this one on the road and Tommy absolutely silenced a very good lineup.”

With Vail on the mound, Auburn's offense kicked into gear, adding to its lead with a two-run Caden Green in the top of the seventh sent Kason Howell and Cooper McMurray home and made it 4-0.

“He got me on a curveball in the dirt and I was not expecting him to throw another one,” Green said. “He left it right down the middle so we took advantage of it. Momentum right back up the middle and took it that way.”

McMurray notched an RBI-single in the eighth and Howell capped the night off with a 2-run home run in the top of the ninth giving Auburn an 8-0.

The defense nearly collapsed in the bottom of the inning, giving up four runs before Will Cannon stepped in to secure the win and preserve Vail's stellar performance.

“It felt good to get the weekend off to a good start,” said Vail (3-1). “It’s my job to go as deep as I can and save the bullpen so we have more bullets to fire later on. It felt good to throw up zeros and know the guys behind me were playing their tails off.”

Saturday's contest was a different story for both sides as the Tide jumped out to 3-0 lead of their own in the second inning and never trailed in the contest.

The scoring for Alabama started after a bases-loaded walk sent Andrew Pinckney to first and brought Ed Johnson to home plate. Then, an RBI double from Mac Guscette brought in two more for Alabama, and another bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the fourth rounded out the scoring for the Tide.

A Bobby Pierce home run in the seventh and an RBI-single from Foster in the ninth brought Auburn close, but it ultimately was not enough as the Tigers dropped game two, 4-2.

“We’ve got to start turning the corner,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “I absolutely loved the engagement of our ballclub and giving us a chance when the game didn’t get started the way we wanted it to. I thought we were one barrel away and had the guys who could do it.”

Without Vail in the lineup, Drew Nelson got the start and the last after giving up three runs in one inning, and a combo of John Armstrong, Tommy Sheehan, Parker Carlson and Zach Crotchfelt took the bullpen the rest of the way.

The Sunday bout started evenly, with neither team scoring through three innings. Auburn finally broke the tie with an RBI-single from Nate LaRue, but the Tigers were unable to capitalize off of that, yielding three runs in the bottom of the fifth and three more in the final two innings combined.

Christian Herberholz started off strong for Auburn with three-straight scoreless innings, but the Tide's scoring run began as it did on Saturday, with a bases-loaded walk of Tommy Seidl bringing the first runner in for Alabama. A two RBI-single from Drew Williamson capped off the fifth inning, before Jim Jarvis stole home in the seventh.

While Auburn's pitching failed to deliver, the Tigers managed six hits in 30 at-bats and left eight runnings stranded on base in the contest.

“A couple double plays were back-breaking in the game, momentum changers,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said.  “They pitched well enough to win. We moderately pitched better but we’ve got to continue to grow.”

Auburn will be back home this Tuesday for a midweek clash with Samford, before welcoming Mississippi State (22-15, 5-10 SEC) to Plainsman Park for a weekend SEC series. First pitch for the Samford (21-15) game is scheduled for 6 p.m. CST.

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