More Work To Be Done For Baseball Tigers

Auburn took a series from Georgia over the weekend to get back to 5-10 in SEC play and need to keep the momentum in the second half of conference play.

Auburn, Ala.—Preparing for the second half of the SEC schedule, the Auburn Tigers need to keep their winning ways as Coach John Pawlowski's club faces an uphill battle to get back into the race for the postseason. While 12 teams will make the SEC Tournament in Hoover following the regular season, getting to the NCAA Tournament is the ultimate goal for Auburn this season and that may take some doing.

Currently 5-10 in league play and 22-14 overall, Auburn has some momentum after series wins over Texas A&M last weekend and most recently over the Georgia Bulldogs. The good news for the Tigers is that six of the 10 losses came at the hands of LSU and Vanderbilt, two of the best teams in the country. The bad news is that the Tigers still face a tough road to get back close to the .500 mark in SEC play and that's what it will likely take to make a regional this year.

With series at Mississippi State and Missouri the next two weekends before returning home the first weekend of May to take on Ole Miss, Auburn's next three weekends will be huge with Florida and Arkansas to finish off the regular season.

Auburn put itself in a good position to make a big leap over the weekend as the Tigers won 4-3 over Georgia on Friday night and ran away with the first game of Saturday's doubleheader 8-4 to set up the possibility for a sweep. There is nothing that can turn around a baseball season like a sweep in SEC play because it's a full three-game leap in the standings. Instead Auburn fell flat and lost 7-1 in the final game of the series to only gain one game. Senior Cullen Wacker says it was very disappointing to fall short of that goal, but they have to remember the positives and build on that this week.

"Anytime you have a chance to do that it's something special in this league," Wacker says. "It's tough to do. Anybody can beat anybody on a certain day. We just didn't get the sticks going in the third game.

"We kind of got complacent as hitters and you can't do that in the game of baseball. I felt like we were so high on ourselves and confident we were taking our at-bats from the first game up there in the second game. You can't do that in the game of baseball. It's a good lesson to learn and good to get it over with now knowing we can't do that again. We just have to keep working. We won the series and have to keep the momentum going and win series and try to get back in the league."

Player of the Week: Back in the leadoff spot, junior center fielder Ryan Tella has been a sparkplug for Auburn the last two weekends in helping the Tigers to consecutive series wins. This week in four games he was 7-15 with two RBI and six runs scored. In the series win over Georgia he was 7-12 and raised his batting average 32 points to .319.

Pitcher of the Week: Back in his familiar role of closer, Terrance Dedrick earned a save in his two outings against Georgia over the weekend. In three innings he didn't allow a hit and struck out four batters.

Newcomer of the Week: That again goes to starting pitcher Michael O'Neal. Earning his seventh win of the season, O'Neal allowed just two earned runs on five hits in seven innings pitched on Saturday.

Up Next: Auburn faces one of the hottest teams in the country as the Tigers travel to Mississippi State for a Thursday-Saturday series on Super Bulldog Weekend following a road game at Samford on Tuesday. The Bulldogs swept Texas A&M last weekend and won two of three from Florida the previous weekend to right the ship after a tough start.

SEC Standings

1. Vanderbilt 14-1 33-4
2. LSU 13-2 34-3
3. Arkansas 9-6 25-12
4. Mississippi State 8-7 30-9
Florida 8-7 19-18
South Carolina 8-7 27-10
Alabama 8-7 22-16
8. Ole Miss 7-8 26-10
Kentucky 7-8 24-11
10. Texas A&M 6-9 21-16
11. Auburn 5-10 22-14
Tennessee 5-10 16-18
13. Missouri 4-11 12-20
14. Georgia 3-12 13-24

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