Tigers Improving But Still A Long Way To Go

Auburn's baseball team defeated Alabama two out of three to help the Tigers in their goal of qualifying for the SEC Tournament.

On paper it wasn't the greatest week with a 2-2 record for the Auburn baseball team, but from the standpoint of getting back into the SEC race the Auburn Tigers did what they had to do by earning a series victory over rival Alabama at Plainsman Park.

While a sweep would have been nice, winning two of three improved Auburn's SEC record to 6-12 and puts the Tigers just two games behind Alabama for eighth place in the conference standings with 12 games remaining.

Once again pitching was the difference for the Tigers this week as they got two good pitching performances and won both games. Friday night, sophomore Paul Burnside was outstanding as he went eight innings in getting his third consecutive Friday night victory for the Tigers. Saturday, the combination of Taylor Thompson, Chris Dennis and Brett Butts shut down the Crimson Tide bats as Auburn got its first home SEC series victory of the year. Going for the sweep on Sunday, starter Justin Bristow was roughed up for eight runs in just two/thirds of an inning in the loss.

Paul Burnside has become a strong Friday night starter for the Tigers.

Now with 12 games remaining in conference action, the Tigers are still looking up at the rest of the SEC and are tied with Georgia for last in the conference. Tennessee also has six wins, but has played two less games than the Tigers and the Bulldogs. Facing four very tough teams to close out the season, Auburn likely needs to win at least seven of the 12 remaining games to have a chance at the postseason starting with the SEC Tournament in Hoover, which features the top eight of the 12 SEC teams.

Coach Tommy Slater says that's the number he told his team heading into the weekend series with Alabama. "The bottom line is we have to win series," Slater says. "We talked before this week and we told our guys ‘at a bare minimum, 9-6 the second half.' That gives us a fighting chance and I just go on past history for that. 9-6 gives you 13 league wins. Because of our schedule that gives us a fighting chance."

Player of the Week: An easy choice this week as sophomore Luke Greinke has become an offensive force for the Tigers. Hitting safely in all four games, Greinke extended his hitting streak to 18 games and 16 games in the conference. For the week, including a midweek loss at Samford, Greinke was 8-15 with eight RBI and four runs scored.

Pitcher of the Week: Another easy choice as it has become each week. Sophomore Paul Burnside continues to give the Tigers a good SEC series opening performance night and he earned his third straight Friday night win.

Surprise of the Week: It would have to be the ease at which Auburn won on Friday night. Facing Alabama's ace Miers Quigley, the Tigers were dominant from start to finish in the win.

Stock Report: Gradually climbing. Auburn is 6-4 in its last 10 SEC games and can find itself back in the hunt for Hoover with a big series against Arkansas on the horizon. The six wins is the second-most in the SEC over that stretch with the Razorbacks one better at 7-3.

SEC Standings Week Six

Western Division
Arkansas 13-5 32-11
Ole Miss 10-8 27-15
Mississippi State 9-7 25-10
LSU 8-9-1 23-18-1
Alabama 8-10 23-18
Auburn 6-12 27-16

Eastern Division
Vanderbilt 12-6 35-8
South Carolina 10-8 31-10
Florida 10-8 23-20
Kentucky 7-10 -1 27-12-1
Tennessee 6-10 22-17
Georgia 6-12 14-26

Friday's Games
Auburn 12, Alabama 5
Georgia 6, Arkanasas 1
Mississippi State 12, LSU 3
Ole Miss 8, South Carolina 5
Kentucky 9, Florida 2
Vanderbilt 3, Tennessee 1

Saturday's Results
Auburn 6, Alabama 3
Arkansas 7, Georgia 6 (10 innings)
LSU 6, Mississippi State 5
Ole Miss 6, South Carolina 0
Florida 10, Kentucky 7
Vanderbilt 4, Tennessee 3

Sunday's Games
Alabama 12, Auburn 4
Arkansas 9, Georgia 3
LSU 3, Mississippi State 1
South Carolina 11, Ole Miss 9
Florida 5, Kentucky 4
Tennessee 7, Vanderbilt 6

This Weekend's Series
Arkansas at Auburn
South Carolina at Alabama
Mississippi State at Ole Miss
Tennessee at LSU
Florida at Vanderbilt
Georgia at Kentucky

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