Alabama seized the lead for one moment with a big strike against Auburn.
But the Tigers would take the lead back, carpet bombing the Crimson Tide for the next three innings. Auburn scored five, six and five runs in consecutive innings after falling behind 3-2. The Tigers (27-12, 7-9 SEC) finished with a 19-5 win over Alabama (22-18, 5-11 SEC) to open the series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
“Nobody is happy about the outcome,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “We’ve beaten a lot of good teams this year. We’ve had a lot of tough losses to a lot of good teams. It was just one of those nights where it got out of hand and unraveled on us.”
It ties the biggest loss Alabama has taken in 292 games against Auburn, though there is a dispute over the specifics. Alabama’s records say Auburn won 14-6 in 1906; the Tigers record a 14-0 win.
Auburn starter Casey Mize breezed through the first three innings before Alabama reached him in the fourth. The Crimson Tide got a single, double and a walk to load the bases with no outs. First baseman Hunter Alexander doubled to drive in all three runs.
“I thought we had good momentum, and it just didn’t work out that way,” Alexander said.
That had a season-high crowd of 5,993 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on its feet, but Alabama couldn’t press its advantage. The Tigers came back with five runs in the fifth inning, including a three-run homer from Edouard Julien. Auburn finished the game with three home runs.
Alabama starter Sam Finnerty came out for the sixth inning, but was lifted after back-to-back errors and a single started the sixth inning. The Tigers hung six runs in that frame.
“Sam has been great for us all year and wasn’t as sharp in the middle of the game as he has been,” Bohannon said. “We didn’t help him much defensively. The game kind of unraveled on us.”
Finnerty gave up 10 runs, only six of which were earned, on 10 hits across five-plus innings. He didn’t give up a walk but only struck out one batter. The bullpen behind him couldn’t stop the bleeding; sophomore Davis Vainer allowed seven runs (four earned) in 1 1/3 innings. Mason Duke gave up two run in the final 2 2/3.
Outfielder Joe Breaux went 2-for-4, while catcher Sam Praytor was 2-for-3. Cody Henry came into the game late and hit a solo home run in the eighth inning.
“I don’t like losing,” Alexander said. “It’s embarrassing to me, especially the way we lost. This is how I am after we lose. I don’t like it at all.”
Alabama can still overtake Auburn in the conference standings by winning the last two games in the series. That would tie the teams at 7-11 in the standings and give Alabama the head-to-head tiebreaker.
“I told the team that we can’t let one loss turn into two,” Bohannon said. “We can’t bring this to the park tomorrow and hopefully we can put nine innings together like we did the first four tonight.”
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.