After a weekend that could only be described as "horrible," Auburn baseball returned home with the hopes of righting the ship down the stretch. While all didn't go completely as hoped, the Tigers were still able to take the series against the #22 Kentucky Wildcats in Auburn this weekend.
Game 1 (5-2 Victory)
The scoring started early for Auburn, with Anfernee Grier getting a single, then Niko Buentello driving him home on a two-out double. That was all the scoring Auburn got in the first, but Grier wasn't done with the scoring. He picked up a three-run homer in the fourth, scoring Cody Nulph and Kyler Deese. Then he picked up another RBI in the 6th to drive Damon Haecker across. In some way, shape, form, or fashion, Anfernee Grier accounting for all of Auburn's five runs. Kentucky got runs in the second and fifth, but Auburn's pitching by Cole Lipscomb, who went the distance, was more than enough to see that the Tigers never had to dive into the struggling bullpen.
Game 2 (10-6 Victory)
Allowing Kentucky to score three in the 1st and two in the 2nd to take a 5-0 lead was less than ideal for the Tigers. Auburn got three of them back in the 2nd inning thanks to, you guessed it, Anfernee Grier. His three-run triple scored Kyler Deese, Damon Haecker, and Blake Logan to get the Tigers back within two runs. A two-run homer in the 3rd by Jackson Burgreen, who has been on quite the hot streak of late, tied the game. Auburn took the lead in the 6th, Kentucky tied it up again at 6-6 in the 7th, and then Auburn blew it open in the 8th with four runs crossing the plate to give the Tigers the win. Casey Mize picked up the victory after he came on in relief of Gabe Klobosits, who took over from starter Justin Camp.
Game 3 (6-9 Loss)
Sunday's game went much like the midweek game against South Alabama. Auburn was down by quite a large number (thanks to two bad innings) but they did put together a big rally late to make it look much better. Of course, that's not entirely due to bad play. There were some very questionable calls against the Tigers in pivotal situations. On one play a ball that should have been ruled foul off Grier's bat with the bases loaded was instead ruled fair, and put a big dent in an Auburn rally. In another, Kyler Deese collided with the catcher (Auburn coach Butch Thompson argued the catcher didn't give Deese enough room to slide) and was ejected on a play at the plate. Because of this, Deese will be suspended for Friday night's game at Alabama.
Auburn's late rally wasn't enough, and once again the Tigers failed to get good production out of the Game 3 starter. Bullpen struggles and fielding errors continue to plague this team.
Auburn will not have a midweek game due to Finals Week in Auburn. They'll return to the field next weekend in Tuscaloosa against Alabama. It's a winnable series, but given that it's in T-Town, it will be tough. Auburn sits at 7-14 in conference play right now and in a log-jam near the bottom of the conference. A good series or two could still propel the Tigers ahead of that group and on to Hoover. It will require a lot of luck and above this year's norm of play, though.