Baseball Tigers Looking To Stay Unbeaten

Auburn is off to its best in five seasons as the Tigers going into a four-team round-robin at Plainsman Park this weekend.

Auburn, Ala.—Off to its first 4-0 start since 2008, the Auburn baseball Tigers are looking to keep the momentum this weekend in the Auburn Tournament at Plainsman Park. A three-day round-robin event, the action starts Friday at noon with College of Charleston facing off against Indiana State with Auburn takes on Middle Tennessee at 4 p.m. The games have been moved up two hours because of the threat of evening rain in the Auburn area.

Auburn will face College of Charleston at 1 p.m. on Saturday and finishes off the weekend with a 2 p.m. start against Indiana State on Sunday.

Sophomore left-hander Daniel Koger will try to move the Tigers to 5-0 for the first time since 2001 as he gets the start on Friday. In his first outing of the season last weekend against Maine, Koger allowed just three hits and one unearned run in five innings.

The rest of the weekend rotation has not been announced for the Tigers with sophomore Rocky McCord and juniors Michael O'Neal and Dillon Ortman all having starts under their belt from last weekend. No matter who the starters are, however, the group should have confidence in turning the game over to the bullpen after last weekend's four-game sweep of Maine.

With Conner Kendrick the set-up man and Terrance Dedrick as the closer, Auburn's bullpen was rock solid against the Black Bears. Throw in outstanding performances from Justin Camp, Jay Wade and Chase Williamson as well having Trey Cochran-Gill on standby and the Tigers could be in good shape at the end of games for the first time since the 2010 season.

"I love it," Dedrick says of the way the bullpen has responded so far. "I think we have a lot of depth in our bullpen. Our starters are real strong and they go out there and compete. Our bullpen makes sure they stay ready in case they have to go in and when they do they're going to compete. That's the main thing--they all want to compete and give us a win.

"Winning those close games was really good," he adds. "It shows that you have to fight until the end and it shows our will and our want to win. No matter how close it is we stay in the game and stay focused and find a way to win."

Junior outfielder Ryan Tella led the Tigers in hitting last season and is off to a strong start this year.

At the plate junior catcher Blake Austin leads the way for Auburn after hitting .455 (5-11) the opening weekend. Freshman Jordan Ebert was 3-8 with a pair of RBI in two games for an average of .375 while Ryan Tella was the most productive player at the plate, hitting .357 with six RBI and four runs scored.

The one area of concern coming out of the first week was on defense. Auburn committed eight errors against Maine with five coming from shortstop Dan Glevenyak and third baseman Damek Tomscha. While it didn't cost the Tigers this time, it's something that has to get shored up as the Tigers get closer to SEC play.

The Field:

Middle Tennessee:

Auburn will face a major challenge in the opener on Friday as the Blue Raiders will send senior Hunter Adkins to the mound after his eight innings of shutout pitching in the season opener earned him the Sun Belt Pitcher of The Week honors. He allowed just four hits and struck out seven hitters.

At the plate Michael Adkins is hitting .444 for the 2-2 Blue Raiders and has the only home run for the team this season. Johnny Thomas (.333) and Ryan Ford (.333) are the only other regulars hitting over .300 for Middle Tennessee so far this year. The team enters Friday's game with a batting average of just .218.

College of Charleston:

With a record of 3-1 early in the 2013 season, the Cougars are coming off a 38-win season last year that ended in the Gainesville Regional of the NCAA Tournament. Gunnar Heidt leads the Cougars at the plate with a .400 average and has scored five runs in four games this season. He also has one of the three home runs for a team that is hitting .252. On the mound College of Charleston has a team ERA of 2.25 in two wins over Xavier and another win over Charleston Southern.

Indiana State:

Opening the season in Huntsville at the Bulldog Classic, the Sycamores are 2-2 following wins over Alabama A&M and Morehead State with losses to IPFW and Morehead State. Hitting .288 as a team, Indiana State is led by Koby Kraemer's .545 average. In 11 at-bats the opening weekend he totaled six hits and four RBI. Robby Ort had seven hits for a .438 average, scored six runs, and had 12 total bases in four games. Reliever Kurt Kudreki is the player to watch for the pitching staff of the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference champions after he allowed just one unearned run in four innings of relief last weekend.


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