ATLANTA - Auburn scored four runs in the last two innings and put the tying run on base in the top of the ninth, but the Tigers ultimately dropped a 6-4 decision at Georgia Tech Tuesday night.
Auburn's bullpen combination of Elliott Anderson, Ryan Watson and Corey Herndon held the Yellow Jackets scoreless in the final 4.2 innings and the Auburn bats came alive with nine of the team's 10 hits in the final four frames. However, the Tigers' comeback bid wasn't enough.
Auburn fell to 19-3 with the loss while Georgia Tech improved to 12-8. Freshman left-hander Jack Owen (0-1, 6.10) suffered the loss while his counterpart, Brant Burter (1-1, 7.82) earned the win.
"You always learn something from a game whether it's a win or a loss," head coach Butch Thompson said. "We got punched in the mouth for about seven innings tonight. It took us a while to get back in the ballgame, and when we started getting back in it, they made an unbelievable play at second base to end a rally. I hope it's a good gut check for our guys."
Georgia Tech jumped out to an early lead as a fly ball to shallow center field dropped into no-man's land and allowed Chase Murray to score from third in the bottom of the first. However, Owen did a good job of escaping the jam as he induced a ground-ball double play to end the inning.
Three innings later, the Yellow Jackets got to the Auburn freshman with a five-run frame. The big blow came on a three-run home run from Michael Guldberg.
The Tigers threated in the top of the sixth with runners on first and second and two outs. Jay Estes hit a hard-hit grounder back up the middle, but Georgia Tech second baseman Wade Bailey prevented a run from scoring with a diving stop and flip to second base.
Auburn again threatened in its next at-bat as a two-out rally loaded the bases, but the team left them that way as a strikeout ended the threat.
The Tigers cut into the Yellow Jackets' lead with a three-run eighth inning. Judd Ward, who entered the game in a pinch-hitting role in the seventh, came through with a two-out, two-RBI single to left field to put the Tigers on the scoreboard. Two pitches later, Will Holland went with an outside pitch and drove in another on a single to right field.
Auburn trimmed its deficit to two runs on a RBI single from Estes, who advanced to second on third baseman Luke Waddell's second throwing error of the inning. Dylan Ingram then drew a two-out walk and represented the tying run, but a ground ball to third base that was dug out by first baseman Kyle McCann ended the game.
Ward went 2-for-2 after coming off the bench in the seventh inning and drove in the first two runs of his Auburn career. Conor Davis, Will Holland and Steven Williams added a pair of hits in the game.
The Tigers continue their road trip with a three-game series at Kentucky (14-6, 0-3 SEC) this weekend. The series opener in Lexington, Ky., is scheduled for Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT.