Tough SEC Start For Baseball Tigers

Auburn's offense struggled over the weekend as the Tigers were swept by Vanderbilt to open SEC play.

Auburn, Ala.—Following a successful pre-conference schedule, the Auburn Tigers ran into a buzz saw the opening weekend of SEC baseball play as the Vanderbilt Commodores swept Coach John Pawlowski's club at Plainsman Park.

Winning games 5-2, 8-1 and 8-6, Vanderbilt showed why it is one of the top-ranked teams in the country this season.

As for Auburn, the week showed plenty of work is still to be done for the Tigers in all areas with the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge waiting next weekend. In addition to the three losses to the Commodores, Auburn also had a win over Kennesaw State on Tuesday night to go 1-3 for the week on the diamond.

Coming into the season the questions for Auburn surrounded the pitching staff while the offense was thought to be the strength of the team, but last week continued the trending downward for the Tigers as the plate. In four games Auburn was just 27-123 (.219) and is now hitting just .269 as a team in 2013.

That's a far cry from last season's .304 average, but it goes deeper than that. Despite having veterans such as Ryan Tella, Dan Glevenyak, Cullen Wacker, Blake Austin and Garrett Cooper back, the Tigers have just five home runs as a team this season with one of those the inside-the-park variety.

While Auburn's offense is looking to break out from its slow start, the pitching staff has been the bright spot this season. With a team earned run average of 3.32, Auburn's pitching was superb in spots against Vanderbilt over the weekend, but slow starts by Daniel Koger and Rocky McCord proved to be too much to overcome against a quality opponent.

Player of The Week: It's hard to find someone who stands out when the team struggled so much at the plate, but designated hitter Patrick Savage was that guy. With hits in all four games, Savage was 5-15 with a pair of runs scored.

Pitcher of The Week: While his stat line doesn't wow you, allowing three runs on three hits in six and one/third innings, junior college transfer Michael O'Neal was nearly untouchable against the Commodores for much of Saturday's start. Not allowing his first hit until the fourth inning, he allowed two runs in the fifth to break a scoreless inning streak of 13 2/3 innings.

Newcomer of The Week: While he only went 2-8 for the week, freshman leadoff man Jackson Burgreen did his job as the leadoff man for the Tigers with six walks as he reached base eight of 14 times for the week.

Up Next: The LSU Tigers (18-2, 2-1) took two of three on the road at Mississippi State and had won 12 consecutive games until a Sunday loss in Starkville. Auburn must slow LSU's Mason Katz, who has nine home runs and 32 RBI this season for a team hitting .312 overall.

SEC Standings

Vanderbilt 3-0
Texas A&M 3-0
LSU 2-1
Kentucky 2-1
Ole Miss 2-1
Alabama 2-1
South Carolina 2-1
Arkansas 1-2
Florida 1-2
Mississippi State 1-2
Missouri 1-2
Tennessee 1-2
Auburn 0-3
Georgia 0-3

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