No. 19 Auburn Falls to No. 1 Florida in Series Finale
By George Nunnelley
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – No. 19 Auburn jumped out to an early lead for the second straight day but couldn’t hold the advantage in the series finale as the Tigers fell to No. 1 Florida, 12-3, Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium.
Edouard Julien got the offense started for the second straight day as he followed a hit-by-pitch and walk to start the game with a three-run home run in the top of the first inning.
However, Florida (36-10, 16-5 SEC) took advantage of 10 free passes in the game and scored 12 unanswered runs to take the series finale. It was the first game this season Auburn (31-14, 10-11 SEC) lost when scoring in the first inning.
Left-hander Andrew Mitchell (0-1, 3.28) suffered the loss for the Tigers as he pitched 3.0 innings and allowed four runs on four hits. Opposite Mitchell, Florida’s Jack Leftwich (4-1, 3.50) settled down after the first four batters of the game and earned the win.
“Once we opened the door for them, they did not let go of us,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “We had a fly ball and four walks in that fourth inning, a couple of two-strike hits and they just didn’t relent. Even in the consecutive innings after, they didn’t let up. We got off to a quick start, but we just didn’t finish well. As well as last night went, our team has to understand we still have a ton of work to do.”
After going the opposite way a day ago, Julien ripped his 11th home run of the season just past the scoreboard in right-center. It was Julien’s eighth home run in the last 20 games. He matched Hunter Morris for the second most by an Auburn freshman in the Stat Crew era (1993).
Florida put the leadoff man aboard in both the second and third innings, but a pair of double plays from the left side of the Auburn infield helped Mitchell hold the Gators scoreless through three innings.
Florida got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth as the first five batters reached, aided by a miscommunication on a fly ball to right-center and a pair of walks. With one run already in, Davis Daniel entered in relief of Mitchell with the bases-loaded and nobody out. Nick Horvath then put the Gators ahead as he cleared the bases with a double to left-center. Florida ultimately scored six runs on five hits and drew four walks in the inning.
The Gators added to the lead with a run in each of its next two at-bats on two-out RBI singles. Deacon Liput hit his second home run of the weekend, a two-run shot to right-center, in the bottom of the seventh, and Florida capped the scoring for the game with two more runs in the home half of the eighth.