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Auburn Doubledays vs Connecticut - O'Connor

Auburn's Pablo O'Connor dives back to first base on a pick-off attempt in front of Connecticut's Jordan Verdon Sunday at Falcon Park. 

AUBURN — One mistake cost the Auburn Doubledays a chance at sweeping their fourth series of the year.

That mistake was a pitch in the third inning from starter Francys Peguero to Connecticut Tigers shortstop Wenceel Perez, who took the first pitch with one man on and punched it over the wall in right field.

That two-run home provided the only runs in a 2-0 defeat for Auburn against Connecticut Sunday at Falcon Park.

Peguero (2-3, 3.11 ERA) was otherwise strong, limiting the Tigers to those two runs and three hits in five innings of work. In eight starts this season, Peguero has held his opponents to two runs or less six times.

The Doubledays were unable to overcome Peguero's lone blemish. Auburn went hitless through the first four innings and finished the game 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

That area had been one of strength through the first two games of the series — the Doubledays hit .379 (11-for-29) in those situations prior to Sunday.

"We just didn't have much going offensively, taking too many fastballs early in the count," Auburn manager Jerad Head said. "We got ourselves in a hole and it's tough to get out of that when we're hitting from behind all the time."

Jonathan Pryor recorded Auburn's first hit of the game in the fifth inning with the Doubledays trailing 2-0, and he finished 2-for-4. Jose Sanchez, Pablo O'Connor (walk), Nic Perkins and Kyle Marinconz all singled.

Perkins also extended a personal hitting streak to five games.

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Auburn's offense could have been a little out of sync with its typical No. 1 and No. 2 hitters, Cody Wilson and Carson Shaddy, sitting out for a rest day.

Cole Daily and Sanchez, who normally hit in the eighth and ninth spots, took a crack higher in the lineup and had mixed results. Daily popped out with the bases loaded in the fifth, while Sanchez struck out swinging with two men on to end the seventh.

"It was just a couple guys getting a day off," Head said. "Sanchez has done a very good job over the last couple of weeks of getting on base, and we thought he was our best option today.

"There shouldn't be (an adjustment). We want them to continue the things they've been doing. The only difference is you lead off the game and might get one extra at-bat."

In the loss, Auburn debuted catcher Tyler Cropley, an eighth-round pick that was called up from the GCL Nationals over the weekend. Despite limited work with Doubledays pitching prior to Sunday, Cropley helped guide the staff through a solid outing that saw 17 straight Tigers batters retired from the third inning through the eighth. He also threw out one runner trying to steal and reached base once when he was hit by a pitch.

Head explained that the Washington Nationals preach the same pitching philosophy throughout all their minor league teams, so Cropley was able to step right in with little experience with Auburn pitchers and still get the job done.

"We try to get them familiar with each other before the game," Head said. "I thought he did a very nice job, especially for not catching any of these guys before. You get more comfortable when you start catching guys over and over, seeing what they like to do."

Auburn (21-19) continues its six-game homestand Monday as the West Virginia Black Bears visit Falcon Park.

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Sports writer Justin Ritzel can be reached at 282-2257 or at justin.ritzel@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenRitz.

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