AUBURN — Despite an early offensive explosion with the first six batters in the order reaching base, struggles at the mound cost Auburn again as the Tigers dropped a Tuesday night clash with Troy, 8-7.
“We just couldn’t do enough,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “That’s a good ball club. That’s a team with a RPI higher than ours and doing good in their league. We couldn’t muster enough on the mound to be competitive at home.”
Auburn held a 6-1 lead after the first inning, led by a big two-RBI single from SEC Player of the Week Cooper McMurray. Kason Howell followed that with a one-RBI double, the 67th double of his career, and another pair of RBIs from Justin Kirby and Cade Green rounded out the inning for Auburn.
Starter Hayden Murphy followed that by giving up pair of home runs to Trojans Kole Myers and Shane Lewis in the top of the second, but the Tigers still held a one-run lead going into the bottom of the second. Murphy's day was done after the second, and Parker Carlson went to the mound to hold the lead.
Carlson held steady for 3.1 scoreless innings, but after giving up two walks in the first three at-bats of the top of the sixth, Drew Nelson checked in for Carlson and looked to close out the inning. What followed proved to be disastrous for the Tigers, and another chapter in the issues at the mound that have plagued the program all season.
After starting things off with a fly out, a passed ball let both base runners advance, Nelson walked Donovan Whibbs and a balk put another runner on base and sent Ethan Kavanagh to home plate.
With the game tied at 6-6, the inning ended with a groundout, but it allowed Whibbs and Clay Stearns to score, giving Troy the lead for good. The Trojans scored three runs on one hit.
Chase Isbell stepped in and delivered three-straight scoreless innings, but the damage was done. After scoring six runs in the first inning, Auburn managed just one in the final nine and dropped another midweek game to an in-state rival.
The Tigers hit the road again in what could be their toughest test yet: a weekend series with No. 3 South Carolina, in Columbia. First pitch is set for Friday, April 28 at 6 p.m. CST.
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