Baseball Tigers Hope To Corral Herd

Coach <b>Steve Renfroe's</b> Tigers face Marshall for a three-game series beginning Friday at Plainsman Park.

Auburn, Ala.--Looking to rebound from a mid-week loss to in-state opponent Samford, the Auburn Tigers (3-1) play host to the Marshall Thundering Herd (0-2) with the hopes of getting back on the winning track.

Following an impressive opening weekend of play that saw the Tigers sweep highly regarded VCU, the team hopes to get back to its winning ways this weekend when they face Marshall from the Mid-America Conference. The Thundering Herd enters the series after falling twice to Winthrop last weekend by scores of 12-0 and 11-3.

Levale Speigner will start game one for Auburn.

Friday afternoon the Tigers will send ace Levale Speigner to the mound. A winner in his first start when he didn't allow an earned run in five innings of work, the junior from Thomasville, Ga., has firmly entrenched himself as the number one man in Auburn's rotation.

Saturday Cory Dueitt gets the call from Renfroe and company. Also 1-0 on the season, the sophomore struggled at times early but finished strong in Saturday's start and should continue to get better as he gets more acquainted with being a starter.

The same is true of Sunday's starter, Colby Paxton. A winner last Sunday, the big sophomore was able to overcome a bad inning in the game and finished on a high note and with confidence heading into this weekend's games after giving up just three hits and two earned runs in six innings of work.

A possible change to look for this weekend could be in the closer's role as solid performances on two different occasions this season have Kenny Clayton in place to take over the role from Eric Brandon. Allowing just one hit and striking out seven in four innings of work, the Marietta, Ga., native has shown an ability to throw strikes and keep hitters off balance, something that Brandon has struggled with in two outings this season.

Kenny Clayton's stock is rising.

Pitching could once again spell the difference for the Tigers as the Thundering Herd struggled at the plate in the opening series against Winthrop. Collecting just 12 hits in the two games and batting only .182 as a team, Marshall has but one player hitting above .300 coming into the series against the Tigers. Winthrop hit .313 in the two games between the schools and scored 23 runs.

At the plate the Tigers are led by catcher/designated hitter Bobby Huddleston. After being used only in a reserve role last season, he has been the basher for Auburn this season. Hitting .545 with two doubles and three runs batted in, Huddleston has given Auburn the bat the Tigers were looking for in the middle of the lineup.

Another surprise at the plate has been Chuck Jeroloman. Known mainly for his fielding, the freshman shortstop is 5-for-10 on the season with two runs batted in. Couple that with the pop from Jonathan Schuerholz, who is 4-for-9 with five runs scored, and you get a lineup that is solid from top to bottom. In fact, the regular seven, eight and nine hitters in the batting order are hitting .313, .500 and .444, respectively, making it tough for opposing pitchers to bypass the middle of the rotation.

Game times for the weekend are 3 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1:30 for the series finale on Sunday. There are also several promotions happening at Plainsman Park for the weekend. Friday's game is a HealthSouth business person's Day. Fans presenting a business card at the ticket window will receive two-for-one admission to the game. Saturday is PowerAde Auburn Baseball T-Shirt Day. The first 500 fans through the gates will receive an Auburn baseball T-Shirt compliments of PowerAde. Sunday's game is Coca-Cola Family Day as well as Cellular One Team Photo Day. Fans purchasing two adult tickets Sunday will receive two youth admissions free. Also the first 500 fans will receive an Auburn team photo which can be used to gather autographs of Auburn team members following the game.

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