Golloway Hopes to Scratch Out Wins Vs. Xavier

The baseball Tigers will play a three-game series at Plainsman Park vs. the Xavier Musketeers of the Big East Conference.

Anfernee Grier (above) is off to a strong start for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn’s final three-game weekend series before opening SEC baseball play next week at Texas A&M features the Tigers’ first-ever matchup vs. the Xavier Musketeers, an opponent out of the Big East Conference that has one of the top pitchers Auburn will face this year.

Sophomore lefty Brad Kirschner is scheduled to take the mound for the visitors on Friday at 3 p.m. CST at Plainsman Park. He will take on Cole Lipscomb for the Tigers, who is battling to earn a spot in the SEC weekend pitching rotation.

Kirschner, who threw six shutout innings in his last outing vs. nationally ranked Louisville, will bring a 2-1 record and a 0.47 earned average to Auburn. Lipscomb, who is coming off a strong relief performance last Saturday in a victory over nationally-ranked Oklahoma State, has a 2-0 record with a 2.45 earned run average.

Coach Sunny Golloway’s 10-3 Auburn team comes into the series with momentum, winning eight of its last nine games including a Tuesday night neutral site 5-3 victory over Alabama in Montgomery.

The Musketeers, who are 4-6 and picked to finish fourth in the Big East, haven’t played since last weekend because bad weather cancelled their game with intra-city rival Cincinnati.

For Saturday’s 1 p.m. start the Tigers plan to pitch senior right-hander Rocky McCord, who has a 1-0 record with a 1.10 ERA. Xavier’s Saturday starter is also a senior right-hander. Adam Hall has a 1-0 record and a 7.36 ERA. Neither team has announced its starting pitcher for Sunday’s 1 p.m. contest.

“All of our weekends have really tested us,” Golloway said of Auburn’s opponents, noting he expects the same thing from Xavier. “We know we are going to have our hands full.

“We are going to have to pitch and play defense, and do a really good job of that,” Golloway added. “We are going to have to scratch and claw for every run because their pitching staff is really good.”

Sunny Golloway is in his second season as head coach of the Tigers

At the plate the Tigers feature sophomore center fielder Anfernee Grier, who brings a 15-game hitting streak into the series. The current SEC Player of the Week, Grier is hitting .471 with a .565 on-base percentage.

“He presents a lot of stress and a lot of anxiety right from the get-go for opponents,” Golloway said. “He is hitting so well you would consider moving him down into the meat of your order, but he seems to have really adapted well to leadoff so we will just stay out of his way and let Anfernee play.”

Grier, who made the move this season from right field to center, said that he hasn’t been worried about his batting average or other statistics. “I just try to do whatever I can to help the team,” he said, adding, “I don’t get caught up in my batting average, RBIs and stuff like that.”

Grier noted that coming into the season he was a bit concerned about adjusting to playing center field, but said he is making progress. “Just being out there and playing the game is helping a lot,” said the sophomore, who was mostly an infielder in high school.

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