Online Now 1203

Phillip's blog: Weekend disaster

You can't call it anything but a full-blown disaster.

Senior Editor Phillip Marshall

An Alabama baseball team with no more than two players who could crack Auburn's starting lineup, outpitched, outcoached and generally outplayed Auburn and, with Sunday's 6-2 victory, completed a stunning sweep at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

One week ago, the Tigers had finished winning their third consecutive series and were tied for first place in the Southeastern Conference West. Now they are tied for third, two games out of first and two games out of last.

Alabama, on the other hand came into the weekend 1-8 in the SEC and 11-19 overall, frankly a bad team. But it certainly played like the better team and the more confident team for three days.

Auburn couldn't get big hits and couldn't make big pitches. Head coach John Pawlowski made some puzzling moves in all three games, and none of them worked. Auburn made too many errors in the field and too many on the basepaths.

And now a season that looked so promising is tettering on the brink.

Alabama's weekend was reminiscent of what Auburn did in 2001, Steve Renfroe's first season. The Tigers started 0-9 in the SEC, then swept Tennessee and Alabama and went 15-6 the rest of the season. But that Auburn team had Gabe Gross, Todd Faulkner, Mailon Kent and friends. This Alabama team isn't even in that world. Of course, neither is this Auburn team.

Regardless, all is not lost. If the Tigers can regain the mojo they had in the first three weekends, they can still have a good season. But it's not going to be easy. The go to Vanderbilt next weekend, then return home to play South Carolina. They still have Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Arkansas after that.

The team that won the first three series would have a chance to negotiate that gauntlet. The team that lost three to Alabama will have no chance.

Any sweep in SEC is a big problem. In the grand scheme things, it really doesn't matter who it's against. But when you are Auburn, Alabama is different. That one hurts worse than one against anyone else. It's been a bad year overall against Alabama for Auburn's three main men's sports. The football team was blown out at home, the basketball was swept home and away and now the baseball team has been swept by Alabama team that really isn't very good.

Maybe Alabama is better than the record it brought into the weekend. Time will tell, starting next weekend at LSU. It's certain that Auburn played light years better the first three weekends than it did this weekend.

"We can't play this way and expect to win in this league," Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. "You have to take a deep breath and get back up."

Whether Auburn players can do that will tell the story of whether they have a chance to be a factor or if they don't.

Consistency is the key in a 30-game SEC schedule. In the first three series, Auburn overcame fielding and baserunning miscues with stellar pitching. The pitching wasn't quite as good this weekend, and seemingly every mistake proved costly.

The season is far from over, but sunny skies have been replaced by storm clouds.

Already have an account? Sign In