Recap 3/17: What the Buc?
I’m not sure which Auburn team took the field last night. For starters, it wasn’t an Auburn we’ve seen so far this season and CJP seems to agree:
"We didn't play very good baseball today. We made a lot of mistakes and we did several things that I would consider uncharacteristic of the team so far…”
The bottom line is this. Auburn somehow managed to win an extra-inning game against the Buccaneers from Charleston Southern. “Win” is a stretch. Honestly, the Tigers just did everything they could to lose the game, but apparently CSU had a little bit more last night and said, “to hell with it” and just gave Auburn the win. Auburn didn’t win this game. The Bucs from CSU just lost it.
On paper, this game shouldn’t have even been close. CSU came in 8-8 with the lone bright spot so far this season being not blown out by in-state rival South Carolina (a 4-6 loss). At best they are only the fifth best team from the state of South Carolina (behind USC, Clemson, Coastal Carolina, College of Charleston). They also have an ISR over 200 (Auburn was 35). Yet here they were, going toe to toe and extending Auburn to extra innings.
Dexter Price had an off night (4.1 IP/9h/3r/2er/6k) and the Tiger bats were held in check by CSU. CSU even managed to get two “quality starts” out of it’s staff: Jesse Cedenhead (5ip/6h/3er/7K) and Brandon Roberts (5ip/1h/0er). But for all of the good of CSU’s staff. It was also pitching that did them in.
CSU walked the tying run in during the 12th and Auburn scored the winning run in the 13th on a hit-by-pitch. Read that one more time. In the extra innings, Auburn managed to both extend the game and win the game, not on the strength of it’s hitting, but by the ineffectiveness of the opponent’s pitching.
That’s your ball game folks. 7-6 win in 13 innings.
Offensively, you still have to give the Tigers credit. Only two AU starters were hitless on the night (Joe Sanders and Kevin Patterson); Tony Caldwell and Justin Hargett had great nights; and even showed a little patience at the plate (Ben Jones and Tony Caldwell with 4 and 3 walks respectively).
So what hurt Auburn last night? Mainly defense. Auburn had three big errors on the night (from Sanders, Jones, and Hargett) and gave CSU 2 unearned runs.
Also, the pitching was just, well, decent. It wasn’t a horrible night but Austin Hubbard did have a blown save and Dexter Price probably had his worst start of the year. But on the flip side, Hubbard settled down to go 3 total innings and struck out nine. Auburn as a team struck out 21, just four off the school record (25 against Arkansas in a 7 inning game). I know fans on message boards will say “Oh well the bullpen blew it again” but honestly, outside of the blown save (which admittedly is big). This one lies all in the defense.
But again, CJP is taking this as a learning experience:
“We had to go extra-innings and we had to come back, which is another good sign that this team is capable of winning close ballgames."
But bottom line? It shouldn’t have been this close. Not to this team. Now, I’m not saying it should have been a hurting like Alabama did to Alabama A&M last night (24-0. Ouch) but a decent “Lipscomb-like” night shouldn’t be that unlikely.
Tony Caldwell- 2-3/3 Runs/2 RBI/3 BB/1 HR.
It would have gone to Hubbard who struck out the side each inning he worked, but with that blown save, nope, no dice, no prize for you.
By default it goes to Zach Blatt- 3.2 IP/3h/1er/3k.
-Tomorrow’s game against CSU is at 3 CST thanks to the Auburn Men’s NIT game against UT-Martin.
JOBU not happy; but a win is a win. Even if it is a “character building win” against a sub-par opponent. 1 and 1/2 JOBUs.