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February 24, 2013

Auburn roundup: Bullpen solid once again, Blanche ignites huge comeback victory

Auburn Baseball

AUBURN, Ala. – Sunday’s Auburn Baseball Tournament finale had all the makings of a slugfest, with ten runs poured on the board in the first two friends.

It’s the business of Tigers relievers Justin Camp and Conner Kendrick to douse such rallies, and they did their jobs in nearly flawless fashion, carrying Auburn to a 6-5 victory over Indiana State on a seasonably warm Sunday, giving the host squad two victories in three tries over the weekend.

“We feel like that’s one of our strengths,” head coach John Pawlowski said of Auburn’s bullpen, now with a 1.28 ERA through seven games. “Justin Camp, you can’t say enough, and Conner Kendrick did a great job against those lefties.”

Auburn is 6-1 for the first time since 2007. Middle Tennessee State, a 2-1 winner Saturday over the Tigers, won all three of its games in the four-team round-robin event.

The Tigers put up three unearned runs in the bottom of the first, but starter Rocky McCord found himself in a world of hurt yielding five runs on four hits and two walks in the second inning, needing Camp to rescue him.

After Camp allowed a double, he retired the next 12 Sycamores in succession. Kendrick picked up his first save with 3 1/3 hitless innings of work, punctuating the eighth and ninth innings with strikeouts.

Junior center fielder Ryan Tella went 2-for-4 with three runs batted in.

All nine starters in Auburn’s lineup had a hit.

“That’s solid,” Tella said. “That’s what we want to do, up and down the lineup. You can’t just put it all on one person’s shoulders all the time.”

The Tigers did leave seven runners, able to survive despite numerous chances to open up a bigger lead.

“Sooner or later, we’ll come up with some of those hits with guys in scoring position,” Pawlowski said. “At least we’re getting guys on and getting opportunities, and then when we do, we’ve got to continue to come up with the big hit.”

Auburn next hosts Kennesaw State (3-4) Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Tale of two halves

Losing has become habit this winter for Auburn’s wayward basketball teams, but that failed to deter senior Blanche Alverson even in the face of a 15-point deficit.

The Auburn women soared in the second half of a 67-59 comeback victory over Missouri, after trailing 30-15 in the first half and by 10 points at the half.

The Tigers (15-12, 4-10 SEC) have won two straight at home following an eight-game overall losing streak.

“I think that we just needed that one win (against Alabama, on Feb. 17),” Alverson said. “We’ve been clawing for a win, and we would have some close games and games we should have won but we let slip away. Once we remembered what it felt like again, I think that kind of helped us.”

Alverson led the charge on and off the court at Auburn Arena. Her 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists were all team-highs, and it was her community service movement which drove fans to donate more than 400 new or gently-used books on ‘Ballin’ for Books’ day at Auburn Arena.

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