Speigner's Stuff Leads Tigers To NCAA Victory

Levale Speigner pitched like a seasoned veteran as Auburn opened NCAA Baseball Tournament play with a victory over Princeton.

Auburn, Ala.--Princeton coach Scott Bradley says that pitcher Levale Speigner is a classic example that victory doesn't always go the biggest, fastest or strongest.

He made those comments on Friday night after watching the 5-11, 162-pound Auburn senior set the tone for both team's NCAA Baseball Regional opener at Plainsman Park. The Auburn right-hander pitched 7 1/3 innings and scattered six hits and did not allow an earned run. Speigner was credited with the victory as he ran his record to 10-0 on the season.

Levale Speigner

"You can just tell that he is a great competitor," Bradley says of the Auburn senior. "He kept the ball down and forced a lot of ground balls."

Speigner took the game deep enough for ace closer Steven Register to finish the contest and pick up his 16th save of the season as Auburn defeated the Ivy League champions 5-2. That sets up a winner's bracket game at 3 p.m. on Saturday vs. Ohio State, the three seed, which defeated second-seed Clemson in the opening game of the tournament on Friday.

Bradley said the scouting report that Princeton had on Speigner was that his split-finger pitch was the key pitch. However, that wasn't the case on Friday. "He got us out with his fastball," Bradley said. "He moved it around and threw it in great locations. He was a little sneaky with it. When it starts in the lower half of the zone, it is tough to do anything with it. That is good pitching."

Speigner agreed that his fastball was the key pitch vs. Princeton as a packed house of 4,209 fans watched inside Plainsman Park and hundreds more checked out the action on the hill beyond the center field fence.

Speigner struck out six batters and walked just one as he improved his record to 10-0 this season.

The senior had no problem with Coach Steve Renfroe giving him the hook in the eighth inning, noting that he was getting a "little" tired. "I stretched it out pretty good tonight. I felt pretty good. I did lose a little bit at the end. That is when I really had to concentrate on hitting the mitt when Bobby (Huddleston) set up on the corner and throwing it right where he was and letting them put the ball in play."

After struggling last season in NCAA play, Speigner said he appreciated the confidence that Renfroe placed in him as the opening game pitcher. "I had a rough same game last year," he noted. "For them to have confidence in me to allow me to go out and make the start is huge. For us to get a win early and save our pitching a little bit is huge."

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