Monday, February 28, 2011

Radford Wrap-Up: The World Didn’t End on Friday

Let’s get that out of the way, first. The world didn’t end on Friday. Even though Auburn lost in extras for Radford and presented one of the most frustrating games of the young season, the season will still go on and, in hindsight, it’s not as big a deal. Sure, a sweep would have been nice but, upsets were all over the place in College Baseball on Friday. Including Kentucky, UGA, Mississippi State, Alabama, and a host of Top 25 teams. I would say that going forward sweeps versus series wins are what will separate Auburn from the bottom/middle of the pack in the SEC, but at this point it will be those midweek wins that will provide distance.

So how do we judge this series? Let’s look at the homework assignment:

PITCHING

  • 12 or more shut out innings. Pretty simple. that breaks down to about 4 innings per game.
  • 6 or more innings by a starting pitcher
  • No Blown Saves
  • 8 or fewer runs allowed with 2 outs. Last weekend Auburn allowed 19 RBIs. 8 of those came with 2 outs. It absolutely killed AU against UVA. So let’s limit that.
  • An Andrew Morris/Dillon Ortman sighting.
HITTING
  • 3 or more Stolen Bases
  • 2 or more Home Runs
  • 3 players with multi-hit games
  • 3 or fewer Strikeouts for Kevin Patterson
  • 4 or more multi-run innings
FIELDING
  • 3 or fewer errors
  • 1 error free game

So all in all it wasn’t too bad. Auburn only allowed 5 runs with 2 outs (but most of those came in the deadly 1st game). There was a blown save (a big one on Friday); only 1 HR (from Tony Caldwell), and only 3 multi-run innings. Although Auburn played an error free game on Sunday, they had 3 costly Es on Friday. So final tally from the homework assignment? 8/12 but that’s only about 66% and won’t be good enough when Auburn hits SEC play.

Stray Observations

  • The pitching (despite) the blown save, looked very solid this weekend. Luckie and Smith got deep in counts early and that, coupled with an anemic offense meant short afternoons for both of them. Varnadore has cemented the Sunday slot.
  • Speaking of Varnadore. 9 ip. 13 Ks, 2 bb, 2 h, and 0 er. DV hasn’t allowed a run in his first two starts. Super Pleasant surprise.
  • Ortman and Morris both made their debuts. Both had mixed results. Good in relief, but they both are/and should slot as starters.
  • Justin Bryant was having some arm difficulty according to Coach Pawlowski in the Friday post game and was out this weekend. No word on his return. His loss was felt pretty well. Brooks Beisner held his own in LF (despite a big error) but his bat was a big positive.
  • Speaking of bats. They were absolutely dead this weekend. I know the new bats are having an impact and even the Auburn players know it:
    • “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.

  • I think this weekend was more about the underrated defense of Radford than anything. The games I saw, Auburn looked absolutely snakebit. Every hit has right to a Radford defender. I hope, over time, that those hits will find gaps and translate to more runs.
  • One negative was the lack of sac hitting. Auburn could get guys to 3rd or 2nd but couldn’t get a timely hit to score them. Again, something that needs to be improved.

Bottom Line:

Sweep would have been nice. A series win was what was needed. 5 big games coming up against a historically surprising Bethune-Cookman team, and a momentum builder this weekend at the Charleston Tournament. The Sun came up Saturday and the Radford loss was just a blip. Still credit Auburn for bouncing back and taking the series. A loss there would have been truly demoralizing. Ask Alabama went O for 3 against Southeastern Louisiana, Central Florida, and South Alabama.

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