Calvin Coker
Calvin Coker pitched two scoreless innings for the Tigers on Thursday night. (Photo: Adam Sparks/Inside The Auburn Tigers, Scout.com)

 

Oxford, Miss.--Down 5-1 after five innings, No. 16 Auburn got a solo home run in the sixth from Steven Williams and three runs in the seventh, but couldn’t finish off the comeback as Ole Miss closer Parker Caracci slammed the door to give the fifth-ranked Rebels the Thursday night victory 5-4.

With the loss Auburn falls to 35-15 overall and 13-12 in SEC baseball play while Ole Miss improves to 37-13, 14-11 in league action.

On a night when Ole Miss starter Ryan Rollison shut down the Auburn offense for much of the night, the Tigers had chances to do some damage, but were 0-6 with runners in scoring position and that was the difference in the one-run loss.

“We didn’t blink,” Auburn Coach Butch Thompson said. “We got down in the ballgame and I thought our at-bats got better and better as the game went along. We wound up getting four runs and drawing back at the end.

“It’s the one more hit with a guy in scoring position,” he added. “It’s maybe catching one more ball. It was the one, one more camera angle. It was all that and more which you expect in a game one in the Southeastern Conference, great game.”

Getting the start for the Tigers, sophomore Davis Daniel got through five innings, but allowed a pair of home runs and five earned runs to take the loss. Elliott Anderson, Calvin Coker and Andrew Mitchell pitched in relief for Auburn and kept the Tigers in the game to allow the offense to get going late.

“I thought he kept competing,” Thompson said of Daniel. “I thought he kept trying to drive the ball in the strike zone to give us a chance. A couple of times after home runs we got a double play ground ball and were able to get the third out. I thought we were able to keep them at bay because he stayed competitive for us.”

Retiring the first four batters he faced, Daniel allowed a one-out single in the second inning to bring Golsan to the plate. Getting ahead 0-2, the Montgomery native tried to throw a high fastball past the hitter, but Golsan tomahawked it over the wall in left field for a two-run homer.

Auburn would have it’s chance in the top of the third inning to make some noise following a leadoff single by Luke Jarvis and walks to Josh Anthony and Will Holland loaded the bases with one out. With an opportunity to do some damage, Steven Williams struck out to bring Brett Wright to the plate. Swinging at the first pitch, Wright’s high chopper to third was snagged on a leap by Tyler Keenan and the throw to first ended the threat.

In the bottom of the third the Rebels would extend the lead on a solo home run by Nick Fortes to make it 3-0. One inning later Thomas Dillard reached on an infield single on a ball that Will Holland could have made a play on. With two outs Dillard stole second and scored on a Keenan double to push the Ole Miss lead to four.

Leading off the top of the sixth, Williams got a pitch to hit and did miss it as he drove the ball over the right field wall for his ninth home run of the season, but the Rebels would answer in the bottom half of the inning to keep the lead at four.

Needing something, Auburn got a leadoff single from Jay Estes to lead off the seventh, his second hit of the game, but he was thrown out trying to steal second. It proved to be a huge play in the game as Jarvis walked before a Conor Davis single put runners on first and second with one out.

Bringing in Houston Roth in relief didn’t help things as he walked Anthony to load the bases with one out. With Holland at the plate Roth uncorked a wild pitch to allow Jarvis to score and cut the lead to three. Following a Holland strikeout it was up to Williams again.

Fighting off a pitch and bouncing it back up the middle, Williams reached on a Grae Kessinger error and when his throw sailed by the first baseman both runners scored to make it a 5-4 game.

Facing Ole Miss closer Parker Caracci, Brendan Venter just missed tying the game with one out in the eighth when his line drive crashed off the left field wall for a double. Again the Tigers would fail to come through with a hit in a clutch situation however as Estes popped up and Jarvis struck out to end the threat and keep Auburn down by a run.

Auburn would go down in order in the ninth to fall to the Rebels in the series opener. Junior Casey Mize (9-2, 2.25 ERA) will take the mound for the Tigers against Brady Feigl (7-4, 4.28) on Friday. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CDT.

“We’ll have to regroup,” Thompson said. “Now you have to find your positive angles heading into tomorrow. You’ve got Casey Mize going for you on the mound and we almost got something done here, played a really close, competitive ballgame. Hopefully, we’ll come out guns blazing with our best guy on the mound tomorrow.”

Box Score

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