Baur’s grand slam lifts West Virginia Black Bears over Auburn Doubledays
AUBURN — After trading the lead with Auburn early on, one big hit gave West Virginia firm control.
The Black Bears’ Albert Baur hit a grand slam off Auburn starter McKenzie Mills in the sixth inning and the Doubledays couldn’t push across another run, as Auburn fell to West Virginia, 6-2, at Falcon Park Thursday.
“In that situation with one out and the bases loaded, he had to throw a strike. He had to bring it over the plate and challenge the guy,” Doubledays manager Jerad Head said. “He was sitting fastball and put a good swing on it.”
Auburn’s Juan Soto, a 17-year-old recently promoted from the Gulf Coast League, registered two hits and an RBI in his New York-Penn League debut.
“He got that first at-bat and fly ball out of the way and settled in,” Head said. “He did a very nice job. His approach was very good and defensively made some nice plays too.”
Oliver Ortiz added a double and a run for the Doubledays, and Tres Barrera had an RBI single. Ryan Ripken, David Kerian and Dalton Dulin each singled.
Mills struck out five and allowed five hits, two walks and four earned runs over 5 1/3 innings for the loss.
Kevin Mooney held the Black Bears to one hit over 1 2/3 innings of relief. David Ramos have up two hits in a scoreless eighth, and Russell Harmening struck out two in a hitless ninth.
“The guys coming out of the pen did a nice job putting up zeros and gave us a chance to get back in it,” Head said.
The Doubledays opened the scoring on a Barrera single in the first inning, but the Black Bears tied the score in the second and took a 2-1 lead in the third.
Soto evened the score in the fourth inning with a single to plate Ortiz, who doubled and advanced to third base on a fielder’s choice.
Baur put West Virginia back on top with a grand slam over the right field fence in the sixth. The Black Bears’ bullpen held the Doubledays to one hit over the final three innings.
“I don’t think we did a bad job putting at-bats together after that,” Head said. “We just couldn’t get things going.”
Auburn (28-42) looks to take the second game of the series against West Virginia again Friday.
“We’re down to five games,” Head said. “We’re going to try to win all five games. For a lot of these pitchers, it’s their last outing of the year and they have to sit on for the next six months. We’re going to go out there and compete.”