Auburn, Ala.--For the second consecutive weekend it was pitching that dominated at Plainsman Park and around the SEC as runs continue to be at a premium in college baseball in 2011. Winning two of three against Radford but scoring just 11 runs, Auburn continues to look for a way to supply some power to the lineup with the new bat restrictions putting a damper on the offensive output.
“I think part of it is the bats,” Auburn senior Kevin Patterson said. “We’re squaring a lot of balls up. We really hit some balls hard this weekend that got caught. We’ve just to got stay with our approach. To get one out you’re really going to have to square it up. Casey (McElroy) and Creede (Simpson) have been squaring the ball up. I think we’re going to hit some home runs they’re just not falling right now.”
That would be an understatement when you look at Auburn’s season through seven games. Hitting just two home runs, the Tigers on a pace for around 25 home runs in 2011 after hitting 130 last season to lead the country.
It’s not just Auburn that is struggling to find the power with the new BBCOR bats though as the 12 Southeastern Conference teams have hit a grand total of 51 home runs in 84 games this season. Take LSU’s 11 homers in seven games out of the equation and you have a ridiculous lack of power in the league.
Only Kentucky (5 in 8 games), Ole Miss (6 in 8 games) and Mississippi State (7 in 8 games) have managed as many as five this season. The home runs per game through two weekends is just .60 by SEC teams, down from 1.28 for the entire season in 2010. Considering that league play should bring the numbers down even more that’s a scary proposition for offensive coaches but one coach John Pawlowski said his team has been prepared for.
“We’re trying to figure this thing out,” Pawlowski said. “We had a meeting with the hitters and telling them to stay positive because sometimes it gets frustrating. We hit some balls really hard this weekend that were caught. Our guys are going to keep working and we’re going to figure this offense out. We just have to find ways to manufacture runs.”
Even with the lack of home runs teams are close to the average in runs per game from last season at 6.79 runs per game through 84 games. In 2010 the number was 7.35 for the entire season, again taking into account league games. But if you look at the first 84 games from last season the average runs per game for the league was 8.3, meaning teams are scoring one and a half fewer runs per game this time around.
There’s a good chance SEC teams will only see the runs go down as they get into conference play in a few weeks. Pawlowski said they’ll just have to adjust and deal with it.
“We played a game in two hours and I’m not sure we’ve done that in quite a while,” Pawlowski said. “The game has shortened up not only time-wise but in runs. That becomes a huge factor. We’ve got to be able to get bunts down and move runners over.”
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