Improving Tigers Looking At The Big Picture

After scoring just six runs in their previous three games, the Auburn Tigers scored 27 in a series win against Mississippi State over the weekend.

Auburn, Ala.--Clinging to the eighth spot in the overall SEC standings after a series win against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the Auburn Tigers (27-15, 9-9) prepare for one of their tougher tests of the season when they travel to Tuscaloosa this weekend to face the Top 10 Crimson Tide.

With the top eight teams qualifying for the SEC Baseball Tournament to be held in Hoover May 22-26, it will be important for the Tigers to keep the momentum built off a 19-7 bombing of the Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon at Plainsman Park.

One of the main reasons for the resurgent Auburn offense is the play of sophomore center fielder Javon Moran. With five hits in 13 at-bats for the weekend with four runs batted in and three runs scored, he continued to adjust to his spot in the third hole. Especially impressive was a Sunday in which he had four hits, three runs batted in and two runs scored.

Levale Speigner put together a strong pitching performance on Sunday vs. Mississippi State.

"Levale (Speigner) came out pitching good and everybody came out swinging good," Moran says. "We just got the hits when we needed them and everything was dropping our way. It allowed us to score a bunch of runs...We weren't having good approaches the first two games. The main thing we did differently was our approach. We just put the ball in play, no strikeouts and try to win. That's what we did."

Moran wasn't the only Tiger to have a good weekend at the dish.

Sophomore center fielder Javon Moran helped the Tigers take two of three from the Mississippi State Bulldogs last weekend.

To say that freshman left fielder Sean Gamble had been struggling of late would be a vast understatement. With just one hit in his last 20 at-bats coming into Sunday's game, Gamble was looking for some answers to the game and he says he got them from the coaching staff during the week. Finally trusting what the coaches instructed him to do, he exploded with a 4-for-6 effort that included three runs batted in and three runs scored. That just may be what the doctor ordered for the talented Montgomery native to finally explode onto the college baseball scene.

Freshman outfielder Sean Gamble broke out of his hitting slump.

"It helps a lot because last weekend was a horrible weekend for me," Gamble notes. "Against Georgia Tech I didn't swing it well either. I just got in the cage and worked on trying to hit the ball to left field and not try to pull the ball. It worked out for me."

While he didn't hit the ball particularly well with only two hits in 11 at-bats, leadoff man Jonathan Schuerholz continued his trend of finding ways to get on base. Only this time he finished the deal by scoring runs. Helped out by some hot Tiger bats, the junior scored six runs in the series, including a career-high four on Sunday.

Now that the offense seems to be finding its way and with the pitching still capable of shutting down anyone, the Tigers have but 12 games to make a mark before the SEC Tournament. With 15 wins the probable magic number for qualifying, the means Auburn will likely have to pick up at least one road win at either Alabama or Arkansas or sweep both Vanderbilt and Georgia at home. Since the Tigers have yet to sweep a series the best bet would be to get a couple of road wins along the way and no time is better than this weekend against AU's biggest rival.

Coach Steve Renfroe says that the Tigers know the importance of doing well against their rival, but the main point of emphasis is the big picture, which is qualifying for postseason play.

"I'm worried about winning the right number of games right now," he says. "I think that is the team's focus right now. When you get to this point, if we were in a situation where we were playing for the championship then you are looking at things different. You have to be realistic about things and I think you put the right goal in front of them and that's their focus right now. I do believe this, I think if this club can get to the SECs the RPI will be very good. I don't think anybody has played a better schedule. So, if we get to a regional and you can run Levale Speigner out there and Eric Brandon and Colby Paxton and they have their nights, and you can catch them, then you have a shot."


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