Auburn, Ala.—Just 5-4 in their last nine games and 1-4 in SEC play during that span, the Auburn baseball Tigers (21-16, 7-8) will have its work cut out this against seventh-ranked South Carolina in three games this weekend at Plainsman Park.
A team that has won three consecutive series in the league and playing well, the Gamecocks are a difficult opponent for any team.
When you throw in the fact that Auburn hasn’t beaten South Carolina in a series since 1997 and has won just nine times in 41 games against Coach Ray Tanner’s club during that time, things couldn’t get much more difficult for the Tigers as they take on the defending national champs.
A team that depends on playing small ball and scoring runs by chipping away, Auburn will have to play better than it has in recent weeks to get the job done this weekend against a Top 10 opponent. In the last nine games the Tigers have left 81 runners on base, an average of nine per game. That doesn’t count the numerous double plays and runners picked off or caught stealing over the stretch.
With plenty of opportunities to score runs Auburn has done a poor job of capitalizing on those chances for much of the 2012 season, but especially recently. Coach John Pawlowski said that has to change in order to beat the Gamecocks.
“I think guys press sometimes,” Pawlowski said. “We’ve talked about it so much and tried to emphasize keeping it simple. It has happened several times. You just have to keep working with the guys.
"I don’t think it’s one particular thing. It’s hit us at some inopportune times. We’ve had guys on third with less than two outs in the last few games, but haven’t been able to get them in.
Coach John Pawlowski
“For us to do what we need to do, that’s got to change," Pawlowski added. "We’ve got to step up and have some special moments offensively for us to win. We’ve scratched our heads about that, but hopefully this weekend it will turn around.”
If the Tigers hope to get the offense going against South Carolina then leadoff man Dan Glevenyak could be one of the keys with the Gamecocks featuring a pair of left-handers on Friday and Saturday. Since being moved to the top of the order six games ago the sophomore is 10-23 (.435) with four doubles and five RBI.
Another key could be left fielder Cullen Wacker. A solid contributor out of left field, the senior has a seven-game hitting streak (12-27, .444) with three doubles, five runs and five RBI. Wacker has reached base safely in 12 consecutive games.
Game times for the weekend series are 6 p.m. CDT on Friday, 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Saturday’s game can be seen on SportSouth.
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