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Auburn baseball: Tigers drop huge series at Missouri

Auburn went to Ozark Country looking to get a big series win that would help the Tigers' postseason fantasies live on, but a poor offensive showing in Sunday's doubleheader did not do anything to buoy their hopes.

Lauren Barnard photo

Auburn (25-17, 7-13 SEC) traveled to Missouri (14-24, 6-14) for their first ever series at the home of the SEC's newest Tigers and grabbed a win Friday night, before dishearteningly dropping the series on Sunday in the second game of a doubleheader set up by Saturday's storms.

Friday night saw the Tigers send Conner Kendrick (3-2) to the mound to start the series off on the right note, and he sure delivered, as Auburn won 3-1. Kendrick was on the bump until the ninth inning, going a career-high 8 1/3 innings, striking out eight, and only being scored on via leadoff homer in the second. Terrance Dedrick earned his fifth save after a ten-pitch at-bat yielded a double play that ended the contest.

At the plate, Auburn struck out 11 times against Mizzou starter Rob Zastryzny (2-8), but Garrett Cooper's leadoff homers in the fourth and sixth innings were enough to earn Kendrick the win. It was the first time since March 10 against Brown that an Auburn starter other than Michael O'Neal was credited with a win. Ryan Tella, meanwhile, was in a funk again at the leadoff spot, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.

Blake Austin threw out his 35th would-be stealer, pushing him into a fourth-place tie on Auburn's all-time chart.

Saturday brought storms to Columbia, and by the afternoon it was clear that the game would have to be made up as part of a two seven-inning contests on Sunday.

O'Neal (8-3) threw all six innings for Auburn in Game 1 on Sunday, allowing just three hits (none after the third), but a three-run third and a poor offensive showing doomed him to his first loss since the trip to Baton Rouge over a month ago.

Auburn went up, 1-0, in the first through another Garrett Cooper RBI, but the Mizzou third put the bad Tigers in front, 3-1, which proved to be the final. Keaton Steele improved to 4-2 for Missouri, going all seven innings and allowing just one run. He helped his own cause with an RBI sac fly in the third. The cleanup hitter and starting pitcher launched a ball just foul that would've been a grand slam before flying out, driving in what was the game tying run.

Game 2 started as a another low-scoring affair, with neither side getting on the board until Auburn scored in the third. Hunter Kelley walked, moved to second on another walk, was advanced by Dan Glevenyak to third on a sac bunt and scored on a wild pitch. A Tella groundout and Jordan Ebert strikeout ended the threat, stranding a man on third.

Daniel Koger started the final game of the series, but he only made it to the third before being relieved by Justin Camp with the bases loaded. Camp got a double play for two quick outs, though it did allow the tying run to score. Steele led off the fourth with a go-ahead homer, and Mizzou added two more after Chase Williamson came on in relief of Camp, taking a 4-1 lead to the fifth.

Auburn got a Damek Tomscha single to lead off the seventh and pinch ran Mitchell Self for him. Kelley reached on a fielder's choice that retired Self at second, but he stole second in the next at bat. Kyle Ortman was hit by a pitch and pinch run for by Sam Gillikin. Yak produced one of the at bats of the season after falling behind 1-2, and then working eleven pitches out of the reliever Jake Walsh. He walked on a full count to load the bases for Tella, who struck out to fall to 0-for-11 for the weekend with five of the outs being Ks. That dropped Auburn to 0-for-18 with the bases loaded in SEC play. Jordan Ebert came up as the Tigers' last hope in the seventh, facing new reliever Eric Anderson, only to fly out on the first pitch and hand Missouri its second SEC series win this year.

Auburn is without a midweek game for the second week in a row, and the Tigers return home to face Ole Miss Friday, Saturday and Sunday.