Greinke Gets The Call For Tigers

Auburn, Ala.--Looking for a spark out of the starting pitching the Auburn Tigers will do something a little different Tuesday night when true freshman Luke Greinke gets the call on the mound instead of being in the bullpen as Auburn's closer.

Very good this season out of the bullpen for the Tigers with a 1.84 ERA and three saves, Greinke will take the mound first Tuesday night against Appalachian State as Auburn hopes to get some positive momentum heading into SEC play this weekend against South Carolina.

While the offense has continued to struggle with a batting average of just .294 and only 92 runs scored this season, it has been the pitching that has cost the Tigers more often that not. For the season Auburn is last in the SEC in earned run average at 4.76 despite a solid weekend against Birmingham-Southern when the starters had an ERA of just 3.78.

Luke Greinke has been as close to dominating as any pitcher Auburn has thrown this season.

Offensively the team is led by senior second baseman Tyler Johnstone. A solid lead-off man for the Tigers, Johnstone has reached base safely in 29-straight games and has scored an average of one run in those contests. The middle of the Auburn order has done the most damage in terms of runs produced as Josh Donaldson, Andy Bennett and Mike Bianucci have 47 of Auburn's 85 RBI and eight of the Tigers' 12 home runs this season.

Both in their first seasons with the Tigers, Bennett and Bianucci have delivered more than any other players on the team. Bennett has four home runs and is tied for fifth in the SEC with 20 RBI. Despite missing his third series of the season with a hurt ankle, Bianucci still leads the Tigers with a .467 batting average. He has three home runs and 12 RBI in just 11 games played this season.

A player that could make a move for the Tigers is freshman outfielder Ben Jones. Getting his first career starts last weekend against Birmingham-Southern as a designated hitter, Jones could be Auburn's answer in center field where both Bruce Edwards and Derek Sain have struggled at the plate. This season Jones is hitting .267 in just 15 at-bats, but has put the ball in play and had good at-bats all year.

Appalachian State comes into the contest with a record of 9-5 on the season. They will send starter Scott Clark to the mound looking for his second victory of the season on Tuesday night. Clark is 1-0 with a 4.91 ERA in 2006.

The first pitch for Tuesday's game is scheduled for 7 p.m. This weekend the Tigers will open SEC play with powerhouse South Carolina coming to Plainsman Park for a three-game series.


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