Despite knocking out Alabama (33-24, 14-14 SEC) starter Justin Kamplain on 75+ pitches through three innings, Auburn (33-23, 13-17) never fully capitalized on all their early baserunners, and fell to the Tide, 6-3, and out of the SEC Tournament, Tuesday at the Hoover Met.
Auburn led off the game with a single and hit batsman, then proceeded to leave them both on with an inning-ending strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play. Alabama also had their first two runners reach, and managed to push one across through a series of bunts and a RBI groundout, but they didn't have a hit.
The offense left two more on in the second, but in the third finally produced some runs. Patrick Savage doubled in a run, Dan Glevenyak hit a sac fly to give Auburn the lead, and then a botched play by Kamplain between the mound and first let Jordan Ebert drive in Savage on what was ruled a single.
Tigers starter Conner Kendrick pitched awfully solid, navigating a few bumps along the way, and reached the sixth only allowing one more run on an RBI single by Tide catcher Brett Booth. He was pulled from the rubber in the sixth after Alabama led off the frame with two singles and then a game-tying double. However, with runners on second and third, Reid Carter managed to get out of the threat with a strikeout, fielder's choice out at the plate and a groundout to first.
Back-to-back singles in the top of the seventh gave Auburn two more men on, with just one out, but a heart-wrenchingly beautiful 6-4-3 double play turned by the Tide ended Auburn's threat, and in retrospect seemed like the baseball gods mocking Auburn's fielding problems that would eventually doom them.
The bottom of the eighth is where Alabama really sucked the wind from behind the Tigers' sails, putting across three and leaving the Tigers' scrambling for an improbable run-per-out ninth. Bama's big inning was led off with a strikeout and single for the well-performing reliever Carter. The only hit he allowed in his 2 1/3 innings was enough to get him pulled for Terrance Dedrick. Alabama got a double, intentional walk, single, sac fly, and wild pitch to take the lead and then some.
In the last half inning Auburn was at bat, the Tiger hitters still seemed patient despite a couple of 0-2 counts and got long looks, but Damek Tomscha struck out and Blake Austin and Hunter Kelley grounded out.
While ten SEC teams still get to play on, Auburn will be sitting around with no games to play, waiting for Monday and the decision from the NCAA life/death committee. Even on the day that Finebaum is leaving Birmingham, Tigers fans can't celebrate thanks to a potentially season-ending loss at the hands of Alabama. In Hoover of all places. Thanks to fielding and hitting with runners on. It'll be a long wait til Monday.