First Career Appearance A Big One For Kelley

The Auburn Tigers (2-2) face the #5 Florida State Seminoles (4-0) in a four-game series beginning Thursday at 5 p.m.

Auburn, Ala.--It's hard to imagine a tougher first act than the one Ty Kelley faces Thursday for the Auburn baseball Tigers. Redshirted in 2007, Kelley was a member of the team last season, but didn't pitch an inning while working strictly as a practice player. Now the time has come for him to get on the mound in a real game and it comes against the number five team in the country on the road.

Kelley's first start is against the Florida State Seminoles at Dick Howser Stadium, one of the toughest venues in all of college baseball. Facing a team that is hitting .373 after four games and averaging over 10 runs, Pawlowski said he's just looking for his first-time starter to go out and compete and do what he's shown since the new coaching staff arrived.

"Ty Kelley threw the ball very well in the fall and in the spring just continues to go out there and throw strikes," Pawlowski said. "He's got a curveball that he can throw for a strike. We're in a situation where we're trying to evaluate and see who our guys are in the front end of games. Certainly he's a guy we think has the ability to go out there.

"It's a big challenge for him going down there in that environment in his first collegiate start. He's got to go out there and compete, which I know he will. We're looking forward to getting him out there. If he can do a good job for us that would be another huge plus for our pitching staff."

Opening the season by losing a series to a very solid Elon team in Auburn, the Tigers now face Florida State in a four-game series with the first two on the road on Thursday and Friday and the final two games on Saturday and Sunday at Plainsman Park. Instead of limping into the year, the Tigers have jumped right into the fire and that's fine with Pawlowski.

"I think it's good in a sense that you get a quick sense of the make up of your team," Pawlowski said. "You go down there and play a team that obviously year in and year out is competing at the top of the ACC. It kind of puts everything in fast forward. In other words, all your flaws show up real quick. If you play 10 or 15 games against teams that are probably not the caliber of Florida State, some of your flaws will never come out.

"As soon as you play a team like Florida State you'll see where your weaknesses are. It's just like this last weekend with Elon. We play a good team like Elon all of the sudden our flaws showed up really quick. I think it helps us. It speeds up the process a little bit. Would I like for it to be a week down the road? Maybe, but the greatest thing is the challenge that lies ahead for this team."

One of the flaws was obviously the bullpen for the Tigers as it gave up a ton of runs in losses on Saturday and Sunday. That's something Pawlowski and the coaching staff was hoping to get some help from out of sophomore slugger Hunter Morris. A sore back suffered while lifting weights has put those plans on hold for the moment said Pawlowski.

It has also caused some shuffling in the lineup with senior Ben Jones inserted into right field for Tuesday night's game and Kevin Patterson moving to first base. Both moves paid off as Jones pounded out four hits and five RBI while Patterson was very good at first base defensively. Pawlowski said there's a good chance you'll see more of that this weekend against Florida State.

"I thought Kevin Patterson did a really good job at first base and that was encouraging," Pawlowski said. "He had some real nice picks over there. We'll look at Hunter and if he's limited mobility-wise to where he can't move around at first base or it hinders him, then we can always DH him and have that same type of lineup."

Game times for the series against Florida State are 5 p.m. on Thursday and 3 p.m. on Friday in Tallahassee with the games in Auburn on Saturday and Sunday set for 3 p.m. and 1 p.m.

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