Conor Davis said it’s time to take a hard look around the clubhouse.
Not everything is going right for Auburn baseball, clearly, after the team was swept by UCF this weekend through three tough losses in Plainsman Park.
But it’s well past the time to accept that something’s not right. Now, instead, the senior said, it’s more about figuring out exactly how much is going wrong.
More than one problem bubbled to the surface for Auburn in the sweep, capped Sunday by UCF’s 12-2 win over the Tigers to end it. Auburn, ranked as high as No. 5 in the nation by Perfect Game, was beaten 3-1 in Friday’s opener and topped 7-3 on Saturday to lose the series. Auburn was undefeated entered the weekend and now suddenly finds itself reeling. The Tigers expected a tough challenge from UCF, but probably didn’t expect to be swept that way.
Auburn’s returners like Davis suffered their first loss since they were wiping Omaha dirt off their uniforms at the College World Series.
Now, they’re dusting themselves off again — this time probably feeling a bit further from Omaha than they felt last Thursday.
“We’ve just got to evaluate, reevaluate, look around the clubhouse, see how much stuff is going wrong,” Davis said, just a few steps removed from that locker room on Sunday. “Our best players aren’t playing their best right now. At the same time, we’ve just got to put it in the rearview mirror and move on.
“We have a lot of growing left to do, especially to get to where we want to be and get to where we know we can be.”
UCF hammered Auburn with timely hitting and impressive pitching, with Sunday’s finale slipping away when UCF powered five runs across the plate in the top of the third inning to go up 5-0.
Auburn fell to 5-3 on the season. The Tigers get back on the diamond Tuesday for a two-game series over two days against Alabama A&M, before hosting Wright State for a three-game series next weekend.
“The last two days you’re wanting to turn something and it never happened,” Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said. “They continued to play great baseball and we continued to not be able to cash in.
“We’ll take the good things that have happened and the challenges from this weekend and march right into another five-game series this week,” he added.
Auburn rolled up the runs outscoring opponents 64-8 in its first five wins this season, but against UCF, Auburn’s bats went 4-for-26 with runners in scoring position.
Brody Moore scored on an RBI single by Judd Ward in the bottom of the third inning Sunday after UCF’s big scoring inning in the top half of the frame, but that run and the one Auburn mustered in the bottom of the ninth weren’t enough to match UCF’s big bats.
And Auburn wasn’t able to come up with much clutch hitting, going 2-for-9 Sunday with runners in scoring position and 3-for-19 with runners on base.
“There was a lot of preseason — I don’t know if you’d say rankings or hype or whatever — but obviously we’re not there,” Davis said. “We have the talent, but we’re not playing together as a team. We’re not putting stuff together. One guy gets on, we don’t do anything. It’s just individual success here and there, and we’re not playing as a team right now.
“I think that’s our biggest thing is we just have to learn how to put it together as a whole.”
Auburn’s pitching gave up 34 hits in the three games.
Normal outfield starters Steven Williams and Kason Howell missed each game in the series, still recovering from hamstring injuries.
“We’ve just got to learn,” Davis said. “We can definitely grow from this. We can see what guys have been doing well, what guys have been doing bad and come together and become one unit instead of nine different pieces with all of our bullpen pieces and stuff like that.”