AUBURN, Mass. – The Auburn Legion baseball team was fighting to keep its season going on Tuesday night, but after a tight pitching duel, the hometown squad will play its next game in 2013.
Auburn lost 2-1 in 10 innings against Main South in an American Legion Zone 4 Playoff elimination game at Tivnan Field on July 24.
Auburn starting pitcher Mike Vaitkunas was brilliant in defeat, as he pitched 10 innings in a losing effort. He allowed six hits and three walks, while striking out three. He threw 135 pitches in the complete game pitching performance.
“He did everything but sell hot dogs and popcorn tonight,” said head coach Brian Davis. “He did everything we asked him.”
But Auburn’s offense didn’t provide enough support, as Main South took the win in walk-off and controversial fashion in the 10th inning.
Vaitkunas let up a hit down the left field line to start that inning, and it appeared that the Main South runner was out at second base. The Auburn player had the tag down, but the umpire called him safe, followed by groans from the Auburn fans, players and coaches.
Later in the inning, Vaitkunas allowed a double, and Main South scored to win it.
“It’s a tough way to lose,” Davis said. “We didn’t get that call at second, which was tough. But today was a classic. I’m proud that I was a part of it and proud of the way we played.”
Auburn got on the scoreboard with a run in the top of the third inning. Steven Wallace smashed a double to right field and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Then Tyler Bostek singled up the middle to give Auburn the 1-0 lead.
But Vaitkunas couldn’t escape the fourth inning without letting up a run. Main South loaded the bases with nobody out after an error and two singles. Then Vaitkunas let up a bases-loaded walk, and the score was knotted at 1. Fortunately for Auburn, Vaitkunas got the next three batters out and limited the damage.
Each team had chances throughout the rest of the game, but neither squad could push a run home. The score stayed at 1-1 until the 10th inning when Main South walked off with the win.
Davis said that while the end of the season didn’t go according to plan, the team played great throughout the middle of the season.
“There was a stretch in the season when we were as good as anybody,” Davis said. “It says a lot about the kids and the coaching staff. I’m proud of these guys.”