Posted: 9:20 p.m. Monday, March 4, 2013
This weekend series against Eastern Illinois was unexpected for Auburn. Not wholly because of the result (Auburn should have and did win the series), but because we saw the return of some bad habits and inconsistencies that plagued the Tiger last year. The bullpen and pitching staff that had been a strength the first two weeks of the year completely regressed.
Outside of a nice bounce-back start by Rocky McCord on Sunday and Conner Kendrick's continued dominance out of the 'pen, the Auburn arms as a whole were knocked around by Eastern Illinois. No lead was safe in any of the three game, with the worst example, obviously, being the implosion on Friday in which Auburn allowed six runs in the top of the ninth (all with two outs) giving EIU the opening game of the series.
It's easy to blame it on the weather and, yes, that could be a factor, but for two straight weeks Auburn's tapped "closer" Terrance Dedrick has blown a save. Trey Wingenter's Auburn debut was average, Daniel Koger finally showed he was human, and both Jay Wade and Reid Carter struggled in limited action.
For Auburn, it has been a bad combination of an untimely error followed by a complete meltdown on the mound. It happened Tuesday against Kennesaw State and again on Friday against Eastern Illinois. Snowballs become avalanches.
Bottom line, Auburn just wasn't sharp on the mound over the weekend and it showed. It's hard to tell if it was a bit over overwork, the weather, lack of focus after errors, or what. Whatever it was, it has to be corrected before SEC Play.
Before focusing on Brown, we need to discuss the Tuesday loss against Kennesaw State. That (not the Friday game against EIU) was the worst I've seen Auburn baseball look in a LONG time. The No. 1-5 hitters went a combined 1-for-21 and struck out eight times. Add to that five unearned runs, two errors, and being held scoreless until the sixth? It was absolutely abysmal.
After the collapse on Friday to Eastern Illinois, it really looked like Auburn had completely regressed. However, now that the weekend is done, it looks like (for now) that Auburn has righted the ship at least slightly and the offense has started clicking.
There were positives from the past four games. Garrett Cooper, Cullen Wacker and Jordan Ebert are absolutely scorching at the plate right now. In fact, across the board, almost every Auburn batter seemed to find some sort of rhythm at the plate against EIU. The only hitter struggling is Jackson Burgreen who, aside from his first home run in an Auburn uniform, had a weekend to forget (.143).
Here is where we are with Auburn baseball as we head into the fourth weekend of play:
Kennesaw State: NO JOBUs
EIU Game 1: Three JOBUs
EIU Game 2: Four JOBUs
EIU Game 3: Four JOBUs