Tigers look for spark at LSU

John Pawlowski sees something different, something special in his fifth Auburn baseball team. And that’s why, even with an ominous three-game series at No. 3 LSU starting tonight, he’s not ready to panic after an 0-3 start to the Southeastern Conference season.

Blake Austin is hitting .328 for the Tigers.

“One of the things we’ve talked about is the resolve and fight in this club,” Pawlowski said. “In college baseball, you are going to have to find ways to win games, especially late. I think it’s a testament to our club and certainly to the makeup of the older guys.”

That trait was on display Tuesday night in Mobile when the Tigers, trailing Southern Mississippi 3-0 with two outs in the eighth inning, rallied to win 4-3 in 11 innings. But they weren’t able to do that last weekend, and they were swept by No. 2 Vanderbilt in a three-game series at Plainsman Park.

At Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, the Tigers (15-6, 0-3) will try to keep a different kind of streak going. They have won their three last series against LSU – two in Auburn and one in Baton Rouge. Tonight’s game is set to start at 7.

“The guys have to understand the importance on everything we do – every at-bat, every pitch, every situation,” Pawlowski said. “I know the team was very disappointed with the outcome last weekend, but they were able to move forward.”

LSU (19-2, 2-1) won two out of three at Mississippi State last weekend and squeezed past Northwestern State 2-1 in Baton Rouge on Wednesday night.

The Tigers are in search of offensive firepower. With their top hitters back from last season, they are 11th in the SEC with a .269 team batting average. They were shut out for seven innings Tuesday. They didn’t score before the seventh inning against Vanderbilt until Sunday.

First baseman Garrett Cooper and catcher Blake Austin lead Auburn’s hitters with .328 batting averages.

“Our guys just haven’t been able to make adjustments early in the game,” Pawlowski said. “We are going to continue to evaluate that. I think it’s going to happen that we are going to break out and score early in games. We haven’t done that. We’ve hit some balls hard. Sooner or later, we are going to get some breaks and get some runs. We have to find a way to take some pressure off the team and off the pitching staff.”

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