An inside-the-park home run by Ryan Tella and an error that allowed Dan Glevenyak to circle the bases told coach John Pawlowski some good things about his Auburn baseball team.
"Hustle plays," he says. "I'm encouraged the way they've been playing and how hard they've been playing. That gives everybody confidence."
Auburn will need that when it opens SEC play against No. 2 Vanderbilt at 6 tonight in Plainsman Park. The Tigers boasts a 13-3 record -- the best start since 2007-- but will be challenged as they open conference action, first against the second-ranked Commodores, who sport a 16-2 record, then against No. 3 LSU next weekend in Baton Rouge.
Welcome to SEC play.
"Every week," Pawlowski said, "you're going to get a quality opponent."
First up, though, will be the Commodores and pitcher Kevin Ziomek, who is 4-0 with a microscopic 0.87 ERA and has been named SEC pitcher of the week two weeks in row after complete-game victories. The Tigers will counter with No. 1 starter Daniel Koger, who is 0-0 with a 2.42 ERA.
Saturday's 2:15 p.m. game that will be televised on SportSouth features Auburn's Michael O'Neal (4-0, 1.40 ERA) against Tyler Beede (4-0, 1.07 ERA). Sunday's 1 p.m. series finale has Rocky McCord (2-0, 3.44 ERA) against Philip Pfeifer (2-0, 1.07 ERA).
Pitching? That may take center stage. The starting pitching this weekend is a combined 16-0.
And, for Vanderbilt, it starts with Ziomek.
"One of the things that stands out is their arms. I think they have as much talent on the mound as any team we'll face this year," Pawlowski said.
Auburn has used all of its starting pitching -- plus a 7-2 record from its bullpen -- to come into conference play with some bounce, and with a seven-game winning streak.
"We've got some confidence going. I think the guys are very confident in what we're doing," Pawlowski said. "They've bought into what we're trying to do. I think they're playing really hard."