LEXINGTON, Ky. – Auburn saw a five-run lead evaporate over the final four innings, and Kentucky clinched a series win with a 6-5, 10-inning victory Sunday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Despite the loss, the Tigers (27-25, 10-17 SEC) did not lose any ground in the race for the final spot in next week's SEC Tournament as Georgia dropped a 10-inning decision to Ole Miss today. The Tigers remain a half-game back of the Bulldogs, who host Kentucky (30-20, 12-15) next week.
Senior Ryan Tella (0-1) turned in a heroic performance as he took the mound for the second time in his collegiate career with the bases loaded and no one out for Kentucky in the seventh as Auburn clung to a 5-4 lead. He proceeded to strike out the side – his first three career strikeouts – to end the Wildcat threat.
But the second batter of the eighth inning, Kentucky's Austin Cousino, tied the game with a solo home run to right field.
Both teams would have scoring opportunities in the late innings – Auburn had bases loaded with one out in the ninth and could not score – but neither could take advantage until the 10th, when with a runner at third, UK's Ka'ai Tom singled through the right side to bring home the winning run. Tella struck out five in 3.2 innings of work, giving up two runs on three hits.
Freshman Keegan Thompson was nearly unhittable through his first five innings and was staked to a 5-0 lead, but he ran into trouble early in the sixth when he hit a batter and gave up a double to the next batter before giving way to Jay Wade and Trey Cochran-Gill. That sparked a four-run Kentucky rally that cut the Tiger lead to just one run as the three Auburn pitchers combined to give up four runs on three hits, two hit batters, an error and a walk in the inning.
Auburn jumped on the Wildcats for four runs in the second inning. A leadoff single by Tomscha and back-to-back walks to Tella and Ebert loaded the bases with no outs, and Thompson helped his own cause with an infield single to bring home Tomscha for the Tigers' first run. Glevenyak followed that up with a grounder to short that brought home another run to make it 2-0. Glevenyak would then steal second, setting up Anfernee Grier for a two-out, two-RBI single down the left-field line to bring home two more runs and make it 4-0.
The Tigers added a run in the fifth when Glevenyak ripped a two-out double off the right-field wall to score Tella, who had singled to lead off the inning.
Grier and Glevenyak each went 1-for-4 with two RBI. Jordan Ebert was 2-for-3 with a run scored, and Tella scored twice on a 1-for-4 day at the plate.
Auburn fell to 0-4 in extra-inning games this year. It marked just the fifth loss in 26 games this year when the Tigers scored four or more runs.
The Tigers return to Plainsman Park for the final four games of the regular season, beginning Tuesday with a 6 p.m. non-conference tilt with UAB. Auburn then hosts LSU next Thursday through Saturday to close out SEC play.