Auburn stranded 11 runners and walked ten hitters, sowing the seeds for a disappointing 9-4 loss Friday night that means the Tigers must win out on the Bayou to take a fourth straight series against LSU.
The game opened ominously for Auburn starter Daniel Koger (0-2) with two of the first three batters reaching base, and then Raph Rhymes blasted a three-run shot to left. It was Koger's second start in a row allowing home runs to get the Tigers in a hole early, and he lasted only 3 1/3 innings.
The usual suspects helped Auburn (15-7, 0-4 SEC) cut into the lead with a Blake Austin RBI single in the second and Garrett Cooper's RBI double making it 3-2 heading to the bottom of the third. But the tenth homer of the year for slugger Mason Katz pushed LSU's lead to 5-2. Christian Ibarra made it 7-2 with a two run single in the fifth.
Auburn's staff, in addition to walking ten and giving up the two homers, lost reliever Jay Wade to a line drive up the middle that he avoided, but that caused us leg to buckle in the process, sending him to the ER for x-rays on that leg. Making his outfield debut was usual reliever Terrance Dedrick, replacing Jackson Burgreen and Sam Gillikin, who both went 0-2 with two strikeouts.
LSU's (20-2, 3-1) arms, meanwhile, struck out Auburn batters 11 times, compared to just four free passes. Starter Austin Nola struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings and allowed only two runs, improving to 3-0.
Auburn tried to fight back late, putting a single run on the board in the eighth and ninth frames, though the Tigers left the bases full in the eighth, twisting the knife a little bit and really swelling an already ugly number in the LOB column,
Saturday, Auburn will pitch Michael O'Neal (4-1) against LSU's Ryan Eades (4-0) in trying to set up a rubber match on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in Baton Rouge.