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Auburn’s 9th inning rally falls short against West Virginia

A night after being held to just two hits, the Doubledays managed only three knocks through the first eight innings in their series opener against the Black Bears. Though Auburn managed to rattle West Virginia late in the game, the Doubledays’ three-run ninth inning wasn’t enough to defeat the Black Bears, falling, 8-3.

Doubledays starter Rafael Gomez had a spectacular night on the bump, rebounding nicely from his three previous outings where he gave up at least four earned runs. He pitched himself into some first inning trouble after allowing a one-out single and then a walk, but retired the next two batters to end the inning while retiring the side in the second.

His lone run allowed was unearned, as a fielding error put Nick Patten on base to lead off the third inning. Ethan Paul followed with a double, and a groundout gave the Black Bears the first run of the night.

The Doubledays had no answers for West Virginia pitcher Will Kobos at the plate. Kobos mowed down Auburn batters in his five innings of work despite entering the game with an 8.16 ERA in four starts. He faced only one batter over the minimum in his first four innings, and, despite loading the bases, escaped scot-free in the fifth while lowering his ERA by over two runs.

The pitcher’s duel ended in the sixth inning as the Black Bears roughed up newly added reliever Trey Turner. On a rehab assignment from Single-A Hagerstown, Turner gave up a pair of runs in the sixth and then relinquished four the following inning.

Four straight walks not only gave West Virginia a then 4-0 lead, but also led manager Rocket Wheeler to call on Jordan Bocko to limit the damage. Bocko allowed two of his inherited runners to score, with a third scoring on a passed ball. He allowed an RBI single to the following batter, but thanks to some heads-up fielding, the Doubledays were able to catch Cory Wood trying to stretch his base knock into a double.

The Doubledays didn’t give up without a fight, loading the bases with no outs in the ninth and putting up their first run on a fielder’s choice. Jeremy Ydens closed the gap to six runs, and a Wilmer Perez single juiced the bags once again. Jack Dunn kept the inning going with an RBI single to make it 8-3, but the Doubledays late-inning rally ended on an Eric Senior groundout.

The Doubledays will be back in action on Sunday at 4 PM for game 2 against the Black Bears. Listen in on the action on FL1 Radio.

By Chris Valentino Tril