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Friday, February 18, 2011

Auburn beats Arkansas State 12-5 in opener

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn's new-look lineup didn't flash the power it did last year, but it still showed it is still capable of scoring some runs.

The No. 23 Tigers didn't hit a home run but scored four times in the third and seventh innings of a 12-5 win against Arkansas State on Friday in front of a crowd of 4,096, a school record for a season-opener.

"We have to create runs," Auburn head coach John Pawlowski said. "I think that's what our team identity is going to be. And we've got some big, strong guys in the lineup, but we've got to find ways to create some offense."

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Auburn (1-0), which slugged its way to within one game of the Super Regional last year, setting the school record in home runs thanks to MLB draft picks Hunter Morris, Brian Fletcher and Trent Mummey, didn't hit the ball out of the park once Friday.

Instead it showed a versatile offensive game, walking, bunting and stealing its way to 12 runs on 13 hits.

"I think we did some good things with the short game," Pawlowski said. "We put a little pressure on them and slashed a little bit."

Auburn scored in a variety ways. In the third, it was patience. Arkansas State starter Andy Ferguson (0-1) issued four walks and hit a batter. Freshman Zach Alvord made it 4-0 with a two-run single, the only hit of the inning.

Arkansas State (0-1) pulled withing 6-5 in the seventh, but Auburn pulled away with another four-run inning.

With two runners on in the seventh, Justin Bryant put down a bunt that third baseman Claude Johnson threw into right field, allowing two runs to score.

"That's what we worked on all fall," said third baseman Casey McElroy, who went 3-for-4. "We knew with the new (less lively) bats we weren't going to be able to hit the home runs like we did last year. So we worked on small ball and moving runners."

Justin Hargett and Justin Fradejas followed with back-to-back RBI doubles that pushed the lead to 10-5.

Starter Slade Smith (1-0) pitched 5 2/3 innings for the win, allowing four runs on six hits. He faced one over the minimum through three innings, allowing one baserunner on an error.

Creede Simpson was 3-for-3 with four runs scored and a stolen base.

Auburn hosts No. 14 Virginia today at Plainsman Park at 2 p.m. ET. Left-hander Cory Luckie will start for the Tigers.


Clint Richardson said...

I don't follow baseball, but I've heard a lot about these new 'tone-down' bats. Whats the deal about these?

MikeP said...

The NCAA passed legislation deadening the bats. How much? Like this: The entire pre-season practice the Auburn team hit four home runs. Last year they averaged four every day. FSU and LSU both reported only 3 homers hit through all of their practices.

I think this helps Auburn. Our coach is a small ball, play for one run guy. Last year there were times when he seemed lost with all the long ball hitters he had in the lineup. I like his chances much better in the new environment and believe me, these bats have created a new environment.

Andy Bitter said...

I'm actually writing a more in depth story on the new bats for Saturday.

The basic idea: the new bat regulations make them perform more like wood bats.

Andy Bitter said...

And by Saturday, I of course meant Sunday.

Anonymous said...

By and large college baseball across the board is notoriously weak in pitching. This bat change should eliminate the 10 run innings and stuff like that. Sounds like the games will be quite different this season and fewer Creede Simpson moments. Good thing they made that great video for this season. Next year the "moment" will likely be a squeeze bunt.

GeorgiaHoo said...

Hey Andy - Tell us about the Auburn/UVA game today. GO HOOS!