Auburn, Ala.—Looking to build momentum heading into the SEC schedule with No. 2 ranked Vanderbilt coming to Plainsman Park this weekend, the Auburn Tigers had a perfect 4-0 run on the diamond including a win over Alabama Tuesday night and a sweep of Brown over the weekend.
Now 12-3 on the season, Auburn got several very good pitching performances during the four-game stretch.
The pitching excellence started at Riverwalk Stadium on Tuesday night as the Tigers defeated Alabama to win their fifth consecutive Capital City Classic. Coming on in relief, junior college transfer Conner Kendrick didn’t allow a hit in six innings and struck out eight in a 6-3 win.
That wasn’t even the best pitching performance of the week, however, as fellow juco transfer Michael O’Neal pitched a complete game shutout against Brown on Saturday, allowing just six hits and striking out six. It was one of three solid outings for Auburn’s starters against the Bears as Daniel Koger and Rocky McCord combined with O’Neal to allow just 16 hits and three earned runs in 20 2/3 innings of work leading to the sweep.
“We needed that sweep and the win over Alabama on Tuesday,” McCord says. “We had struggled a few games, but we needed a good momentum shift to get us right coming into the Vandy series.”
Player of The Week: Junior designated hitter Patrick Savage had a big week for the Tigers, going 6-15 with seven RBI in four games. Honorable mention goes to freshman second baseman Jordan Ebert as he extended his hitting streak to 13 games with hits in all four games over the week. Going 5-14, Ebert drove in three runs and scored four.
Pitcher of The Week: It’s hard to argue with O’Neal’s performance after the left-hander threw Auburn’s first complete game shutout since Derek Varnadore against Georgia in 2011. Allowing just three hits in the first eight innings, O’Neal allowed three singles in the ninth but finished the game off for the complete game.
Newcomer of The Week: Kendrick has been dominant for the Tigers to this point out of the bullpen. His six innings of hitless ball against Alabama give him 16 1/3 innings this season on the mound and he has allowed just four hits and struck out 22 batters.
By The Numbers: With college baseball no longer a power game, walks and strikeouts have become even more important to teams because of the number of close games played each week. This season Auburn has walked 78 times and struck out just 70 with opponents getting just 45 walks and striking out 97 times.
Up Next: Auburn travels to Kennesaw State on Tuesday at 5 p.m. CDT before getting the conference schedule started against the powerful Vanderbilt Commodores at Plainsman Park beginning Friday at 6 p.m. Currently 15-2 on the season, Vanderbilt won two of three at No. 15 Oregon over the weekend with the only other loss coming against Long Beach State.
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