Midweek struggles continue for Tigers

The Auburn baseball team could muster just six hits off of Samford as it lost 8-0 Tuesday night at Plainsman Park.

Two weekends in a row, Auburn has claimed two of three games against SEC opponents.

And two Tuesdays in a row, the Tigers have come out flat against in-state foes.

The latest version came in an 8-0 loss to Samford on Tuesday night at Plainsman Park, one in which the Bulldogs plated seven runs off starter Andrew Morris in the first three innings and the Tigers managed only six hits.

Samford (25-17) swept Auburn (22-18) for the first time in its history as a Division-I program, a week after South Alabama handed the Tigers a surprisingly similar 7-1 loss.

“We’ve been having really good weekends lately, and maybe we’ve just not been getting up for these midweek games,” junior shortstop Casey McElroy said. “It’s really no excuse. We should make every game like it is a championship game.

“Lately, during the midweek, we just haven’t been bringing our A-game at all.”

The Bulldogs put up four in the first on a two-run double by Brandon Miller, an RBI double by Phillip Ervin and a run-scoring groundout by Kevin Putkonen.

Ervin made matters worse for the Tigers when he crushed a three-run home run to left field in the third to make it 7-0, part of the freshman from Leroy’s 2-for-4, five-RBI performance.

“I firmly believe it starts with the guys on the mound,” coach John Pawlowski said. “When you get behind that quickly, it’s a totally different mindset.”

Auburn put the leadoff runner on base from the fourth through eighth innings but couldn’t cash any of them in, while stranding 11 runners on the night.

The Tigers went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and didn’t have a runner reach third until Samford reliever Grant Sides loaded the bases on a hit batsman and two walks with an out in the eighth.

A strikeout and popout — one of 17 flyouts on the night for Auburn — ended the threat.

“You don’t get out of the gates, you struggle at the beginning of the ballgame, and it’s tough,” Pawlowski said. “We didn’t get anything going offensively or pitching early in the game.”

Freshman Will Kendall, who had thrown 3 2/3 innings over two career appearances entering Tuesday, provided a bright spot in relief of Morris (1-3), giving up a run on six hits while striking out four and walking three over 5 1/3 innings.

Kevin Patterson also contributed a 2-for-4 night at the plate.

Michael Johnson, Brad Moss, Saxon Butler, Brandon Miller and Ervin — the first five batters in Samford’s order — each had two hits on the night, and 9-hole hitter Tyler Filliben was 3-for-4.

Josh Martin (3-1) picked up the win for the Bulldogs, giving up no runs on five hits over six innings.

Auburn gets a chance to bounce back tonight at 6 against Texas Southern before heading to No. 2 South Carolina for a weekend series.

“It’s definitely frustrating when we don’t play well, don’t come out here ready to play,” McElroy said.

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