Michael O’Neal took the loss for Tigers despite another strong performance.
Auburn’s batters were confounded by some of the best pitchers in the country Saturday and the Auburn Tigers stranded 11 base runners in an 8-1 loss to the No.2 Vanderbilt Commodores.
However, the Vandy pitchers were not entirely on their game, issuing nine walks to the Tigers in their game at Samford Stadium. The Tigers had 4 hits, but they came in the last three innings when it was too little too late.
Starting pitcher, Michael O’Neal (4-1) had a solid outing through the first six innings but couldn’t get any run support from the offense. He sat down the first nine batters he faced, giving the Auburn pitching staff 29 consecutive batters retired going back to Friday night’s game.
O’Neal held the Dores scoreless till the fifth inning, which ended his streak of consecutive shutout innings at 13 2/3 innings. He gave the Tigers a chance, but no pitcher can get it done when his offense leaves that many runners on base. After Michael was pulled for issuing a walk in the seventh, things went downhill for the Plainsmen.
Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said, “It’s a little frustrating. We had nine free bases and had guys in scoring position, we just unfortunately weren’t able to come up with a big hit in those situations.”
It’s important that the Tigers get a win in the final game of the series today or take two of three from LSU next week. Otherwise Auburn will be in a hole going forward in league play.
Auburn will try to avoid the sweep today at 1p.m. Rocky McCord (2-0) will be on the mound for Auburn while Vandy will start south paw Philip Pfeifer (2-0). The game will be broadcast on the Auburn Baseball Radio Network.
Go Tigers, beat the Dores!
UPDATE: After falling into a 7-1 hole, Tigers mustered a furious rally but came up short; losing to Vanderbilt 8-6. Auburn’s next game will be against Alabama State Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Michael O’Neal will start second game of the series.
“Good teams are going to take advantage of some mistakes. We made some mistakes and they took advantage of it and that was the difference in the ballgame.” That’s the way Auburn Coach John Pawlowski described Auburn’s loss to Vanderbilt last night at Plainsman Park.
The coach added, “The difference was they had a couple of big swings and the second home run was obviously the determining factor in the game,” However, The Tigers proved they belonged on the field with the No.2 team in the nation.
The score was not indicative of the way the unranked Tigers played. Vandy went up 5-0 early on, off of 2 homers that produced 4 runs. But Connor Harrell’s fifth home run of the season was the last hit allowed by the Auburn pitching staff.
Auburn pitchers Daniel Koger, Jay Wade and Will Kendall combined to retire the final 20 Vanderbilt hitters in order. Koger finished the game allowing five runs on five hits and two walks in six innings while Wade threw two perfect innings behind him and Kendall had a 1-2-3 ninth, including two strike outs.
The Tigers rallied late and was one hitter away from getting the tying run to the plate after being down 5-0.
The loss snaps Auburn’s winning streak at seven and drops the team’s record to 13-4, 0-1 SEC while Vanderbilt is now 17-2, 1-0 SEC.
The Tigers will be looking to even the series at 2:15 p.m. today. Left-hander Michael O’Neal (4-0) will be the starter for Auburn while Vanderbilt will counter with right-hander Tyler Beede (4-0). The game will be televised on SportSouth and will also be available on the Auburn Baseball Radio Network.
Let’s Go Tigers!!
Auburn stranded 11 batters and failed to give pitchers run support as Vandy won game two 8-1. Sunday’s final game of the series will be at 1p.m. CST.
South paw, Daniel Koger will be on he mound for Auburn’s opening SEC game
This time last year, Auburn Baseball prepared to enter South Eastern Conference play with a 10-7 record. This year the Tigers are 13-3 on the eve of the 2013 SEC season. Admittedly some of that success is due in part to scheduling but most of it is due to playing some pretty good baseball.
The Tigers won their seventh straight this past weekend with an 8-3 win over Kennesaw State. It was Auburn’s third straight error free game. And that’s a stat that must be sustained to be competitive in the SEC West.
Also last season Auburn ended the year with a 31-28 record and made their third straight SEC Tournament appearance. Yet the Plainsmen were left out of the NCAA’s Big Dance after a close 5-3 loss to Defending National Champion South Carolina.
Auburn had enough wins but needed a better RPI; something that may have happened had the Tigers done as well in 2012 as they have so far this year against the non conference part of the schedule.
A weaker out-of-conference schedule can be a crap shoot. While a team may enhance their record with wins, they may also hurt their RPI, especially if they don’t win the majority of those games.
And tonight, the real season begins for Auburn when they open SEC paly against Vanderbilt (14-2) at 7 p.m. at Plainsman Park. The Tigers couldn’t open against a more formidable opponent.
The No.2 Commodores were a consensus top three preseason pick and currently are ranked No.2 in the nation. They just don’t have any weakness from top to bottom …
The Dores are quick, can mash the ball, and play great defense.
The starting pitcher will be one of the hottest pitchers in the country, Kevin Ziomek, (4-0, 0.87 ERA) who has 46 strikeouts in 31 innings of work. Auburn will counter with sophomore Daniel Koger (0-0, 2.42 ERA).
At this point, Vandy is the odds on favorite to win the Conference and most Dore fans already have visions of Omaha in their minds. And why not? The Commodores either lead the conference or are in the top three in almost every offensive and defensive category.
While Auburn comes into the series with their best starting record in six years, none of the teams faced so far are at the level of Vanderbilt. A weak out-of-conference schedule is a two edged sword. It helps a team boost their confidence but can it help them make some headway in league play?
The next few weeks will answer that question for the Tigers as they move into their real season – the SEC season.
The good news, if there is any for the Tigers, is that since John Pawlowski took over the program four years ago, Auburn has won each of its SEC-opening series, including series wins over No. 9 Arkansas at home in 2011 and at No. 12 Ole Miss in 2012.
Nevertheless, it will be a tall assignment to keep that streak going against the No. 2 team in the nation.
Auburn Catcher Blake Austin tags out Alabama’s Austen Smith at home plate, during Auburn’s victory in the Capital City Classic March 5,2013.
Despite low expectations from pre season pundits, the Auburn Baseball Team has been playing some pretty good baseball this spring. With a 12-3 record thus far, the Tigers are off to their best start in six years.
Since the football and basketball teams both had historic down seasons, its up to the Baseball Tigers to salvage some respect for the school’s big three sports.
The boys of the diamond have had a particularly good week. On last Tuesday, the Tigers beat archrival Alabama 6-3 in the annual Capital City Classic in Montgomery. Then Sunday’s 6-3 win over Brown gave the Orange and Blue their second series sweep of the season.
With Sunday’s victory, Head Coach John Pawlowski passed former Tiger Coach Steve Renfroe to become the third all-time winningest coach (by wins) in Auburn history with 146.
Yet the best thing about the season so far is the performance of …
the pitching staff. Most thought that the Tiger hitting would be the team’s strength with the Tigers returning four of their top six batters from a lineup that led the SEC in batting averaging last season. However, there were serious question marks for Auburn pitching.
Yet the staff so far has an overall ERA of 2.73 and posted a 2.25 ERA in last week’s 4-0 record. Junior Conner Kendrick started the week off by pitching six shutout innings out of the bullpen in a 6-3 win over Alabama while junior Michael O’Neal continued it with a complete game shutout of Brown.
Kendrick leads the team with 22 strikeouts and has a 0.00 ERA in 16 1/3 innings in six appearances. In addition, he has held opposing batters to a .077 batting average.
O’Neal has only given up two extra base hits in his four wins. He is carrying a 1.40 ERA and has held opponents to a batting average of .204.
Reinforcing the defense is Junior catcher Blake Austin who was recently named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List. Austin has thrown out five of seven base stealers, giving him a career total 25 caught stealing.
On offense,. Junior Garret Cooper has a slugging percentage of .531, with Blake Austin at .439, and Ryan Tella at .436. Damek Tomscha has now reached base in all 15 games this season and has a .422 on base percentage.
In addition, the Tigers have a freshman sensation in Jordan Ebert. He hit his first home run Friday night and is carrying a 13 game hitting streak. And Jordan leads the team with a .404 batting average.
Now is the time in the season where the Tigers will be tested. Tonight, Auburn gets a chance for revenge of an earlier loss to Kennesaw State in a road game. However, the real season begins Friday when the Tigers open Southeastern Conference play against No. 2 Vanderbilt on Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park.
Those low pre season opinions were highlighted by the coaches picking Auburn to finish last in the very tough SEC West. However, polls are just that – opinions. The reason you play the game is to see who really is going to win. Admittedly, there is a lot of baseball left to play – but so far, you gotta like the way the Tigers are playing.
Spring is fast approaching and just ahead of it is the start of a new baseball season on the plains. The smell of fresh-cut grass floats out and around Plainsman Park welcoming those arriving to the ballpark like old friends. The year is 2013, but if you close your eyes and just listen, the sounds of a ballpark are timeless. In an age where college athletics are broadcast and scrutinized to levels equaling or exceeding their professional counterparts, the game of baseball instills a much needed sense of nostalgia and reminders of a simpler time.
For many, baseball is also the avenue taken to learn life’s toughest lessons and collect their most cherished memories. Although I haven’t attended Auburn baseball games in over a decade, I can honestly say they were experiences that continue to have a positive impact on me to this day.
My grandfather took me to Plainsman Park more times than I can remember. We were always early. He liked to watch both teams warm up, take batting practice, etc. I had, if I remember correctly, a minute or so before he would begin quizzing me. “Why do you think they’re throwing like that?” – “Tell me what that guy is doing.”- “What position do you think he plays?” – “He’s tipping his curveball, can you tell me how?” Most kids would probably ‘zone out’ in a situation such as this, but I loved it. I would answer the ones I could, but I couldn’t just say, “I don’t know.” He would always patiently explain and then move on to a new set of questions much more quickly than I could absorb all of what he’d just said. Then the game would start…
Watching games with my grandfather was, to me, like sitting in a dugout next to Bobby Cox while he managed a game. He was always thinking ahead. There was no situation fathomable that he would not have an answer for. I remember names like Gabe Gross, Tim Hudson, Mark Bellhorn, and David Ross but it’s much easier for me to imagine Colter Bean or Chris Bootcheck being brought into the game to pitch while my grandfather explained why they had to pitch to who they were about to pitch to. I learned a lot about baseball, but it took years for me to realize I was learning more than that.
I, admittedly, don’t follow Auburn baseball as closely as I once did. Players, stats, and results are all things that take a backseat to its larger meaning to me. No matter how much renovation is done, Plainsman Park will always be the same as it was 13+ years ago. The excitement of a night-game inside Jordan-Hare is like none other but nothing will ever replace the lifetime lessons I learned and memories I made across the street.
Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, “In the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” Well … that and the thoughts of baseball. With chilly mornings and frost still on the ground, it’s hard to believe its that time of year again.
But on the college level, baseball usually comes quickly on the heals of football’s National Signing Day. For many Americans, baseball like spring, awakens thoughts of new life.
It brings hope and stirs the imagination. After all it is a part of the American fabric. Coming at the start of spring every year it reminds us of new beginnings, new birth, and a chance to start over.
At the end of last season the Auburn Baseball Team was left with the feeling of what might have been. A couple of do-over’s would have made a big difference in how the Tigers finished 2012. Just two weeks before the end of the season it looked like the Tigers would be playing in the post season.
Auburn had enough wins (31) to qualify for the NCAA Tournament but with an RPI of 57, they were one of the teams that were on the bubble.
After losing a 5-3 game to Defending National Champion South Carolina in the SEC Tournament, the Tigers received the disappointing news they would not be selected for the Big Dance.
It was the second year for a narrow miss at an NCAA postseason berth. Its been a frustrating pill to swallow coming on the heals of the 2010 West Division Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance.
But Friday will start a new day as the Tigers open with an eleven day home stand on Hitchcock Field. Fifth year coach John Pawlowski, true to form is optimistic despite being picked to finish sixth in the West.
The coach said his team has high goals for 2013. “We have a good, core group of returning players,” Pawlowski said. “The top four hitters are back from last year’s team and pitching-wise we have some young, talented arms. There is a lot of excitement and energy heading into the season.”
Those four returning veterans are …
Ryan Tella (.360), Cullen Wacker (.350), Garrett Cooper (.324) and Dan Glevenyak (.319). The four combined to score 40 percent of the offense last season (141 out of 351 runs).
Most of the starting pitchers from last year’s roster are gone but sophomore pitcher Daniel Koger (3.19) will be returning. He led the team last season in ERA (min. 10 appearances) and was second in innings pitched (79).
Last year’s team ERA of 3.92 was the lowest since the 2005 season and only the second time since 1996 that it was below 4.00. Rocky McCord and Trey Cochran-Gill will also be returning.
Even though Auburn failed to make the NCAA Tournament the last two years, there’s still room for optimism as the Tigers have a combined 47-43 (.522) record in the SEC over the past three seasons. The 47 wins are the most over a three-year span since the team went 48-42 (.533) from 2001-03 and won 51 from 1998-2000.
And after a long off season, Auburn gets a fresh chance to start over this Friday when they open against the University of Maine at 3 pm at Plainsman Park.
Hopefully the 2013 Tigers can take care of business and pick up where they left off in 2012. Besides that’s what baseball does. It reminds us of new beginnings, new birth, and a chance to start over. I can’t wait …
Take me out to the ball game!
They say confession is good for the soul. So here today, I am publically confessing that I am an addict. That’s right I am addicted to following every bit of news I can get on the Auburn Tigers. Now at first glance that wouldn’t seem to qualify me as an addict; not at least until one reads Webster’s definition of addiction: “to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.”
My wife has told me that at times I am too obsessed with what goes on in Auburn sports. I have to say, it’s been hard to admit the truth. But she’s right; I need to spend less time wrapped up in everything that happens with the Tigers. Don’t get me wrong, Sherry is one of the most ardent Auburn fans I know; she just wants me to not allow so much of what happens on the Plains to affect my wellness.
On reflection, I guess I can see her point. When Auburn is struggling and having a poor season, I hang on every bit of news I can scrounge up about the Tigers. When Auburn is going through a coaching change, I hang on every bit of news I can scrounge up about the Tigers. And when no coaches are on the hot seat and all is well on The Plains … you guessed it, I still hang on every bit of news I can scrounge up about the Tigers. Every year I promise myself I will slow it down, I will ease off, I will not be so enslaved to Auburn Sports.
Since it is New Years (and Auburn is not in a bowl game) I thought what better time to make the resolution to stop being so obsessed – that I regularly skip meals and lose sleep to read or write about the Tigers.
After all, the New Year is a time to make a fresh start, a time of reflecting on changes needed. It’s a time to be resolute, to determine to make those changes for the coming year.
While there are several things I need to resolve to change in my life, I realize I need to pick one and concentrate on fixing it before I move onto other areas. Noted writer Frank Ra (author of the New Year’s resolution book “A Course in Happiness”): recently told CNN News, “”Resolutions are more successful when shared with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution.”
Therefore, I would like to share with my friends here at Track ‘Em Tigers, that I will be a changed man in 2013. I will get my obsession under control. I will not surrender myself to habitually follow every tidbit of information about who Gus Malzahn will hire to complete his coaching staff.
I will not stay up late to listen to Coach Flo’s Tigers continue their winning streak. I will not follow every move of the men’s team, looking to see if Coach Barbee can keep his seat from getting warmer. I will not follow what Juco players Malzahn is close to signing, I will not follow what 17-18 year old high school students are committing, decommitting, or taking visits to other schools.
Hey wait, National Letter of Intent (signing) day is just 36 days away. I can’t realistically make that resolution – not now. I mean there is not much point in making a New Year’s Resolution till after we see how Auburn does on national signing day. Besides, every Auburn fan knows it’s important to see where Malzahn’s first recruiting class will rank nationally.
I’ll wait till Feb. 6th. No wait, we need to see if the Basketball teams make it into the post season and oh yeah we have to see how Malzahn’s first spring game goes too. And don’t forget, the Baseball and Softball Teams have challenging seasons ahead of them. And a big question looms out there for Coach Pawlowski. If he doesn’t get his Tigers into the NCAA this year, will he be back to coach in 2014?
Then there’s the swim team, equestrian, soccer, and volleyball. And that’s not to even mention summer workouts with the annual question of who will be chosen as Auburn’s starting quarterback. And I can’t swear off my obsession at the end of summer camp because the 2014 football season will begin. So I’ll guess I will have to wait till after the football season to start work on my resolution.
No, I can’t do that then either. I have to see if the Tigers get into a bowl game and then see if they win, and then see if they are ranked in the top 25 in the final poll. And then I can make that resolution. That’s it. That’s when I’ll make the change … next year. There will be plenty of time to think about that then.
Right now, the football team is not settled and we are in the middle of basketball season. I’ve got to stay focused - Can’t let up now.
War Eagle …. Go Big Blue!
“Everything came together this year. It all happened a lot faster than I thought it would.” That’s how former Auburn Baseball great Hunter Morris responded Monday when he heard that he had been named the Southern League’s Most Valuable Player.
Hunter plays for the Huntsville Stars and oh what a year he has had. He led the Southern League this year in hits (158), home runs (28), RBIs (113), slugging percentage (563) total bases (294), and tied a Huntsville record for doubles in a season.
He was the fifth Huntsville player to be named the league’s MVP, putting his name along such greats as Jose Canseco.
Morris was drafted in 2010 by the Milwaukee Brewers after a stellar college career at Auburn that saw him being named SEC Player of the Year, after leading the conference in hits, homers and slugging percentage.
The honor is particularly special for Morris as he grew up in Huntsville and played high school ball at Grissom before becoming an All-SEC player at Auburn.
“It really is a great honor,” Hunter said. “I couldn’t be more excited … this has got to be one of my biggest personal goals to achieve in my career.”
Congratulations Hunter. You continue to make us all proud!