Robby Clements helped Auburn win its sixth straight game Wednesday night
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- The hottest team in the Southeastern Conference the last week and a half kept rolling along Wednesday behind a strong, important midweek start by Robby Clements.
Clements allowed three hits over seven innings and Auburn beat Kennesaw State 6-0 to lower its ERA to a microscopic 0.83 during its six-game winning streak.
"When we're rolling like that, and our defense is on, we were hitting, we build off each other," Clements said. "When we have a good start, our bullpen just rolls right in with it."
Clements improved to 4-0, and Auburn improved to 30-16 overall and will take a 10-11 SEC record to South Carolina in another important series for two teams jockeying for position in the conference tournament while trying to secure a spot in an NCAA Regional.
"This is a different team," said Auburn DH Jordan Ebert. "I think everybody is starting to believe."
Auburn coach Sunny Golloway said he was happy his Tigers, sporting an RPI as high as 16, weren't looking to the South Carolina when Kennesaw State came to town.
"We understand how important midweek wins are," he said. "You look around the country yesterday there were just a ton of upsets, and some of those upsets really hurt some team's RPI. That's not something we wanted to happen, so we talked inside about 11 games to go and how important all of them are, and now we have 10 to go, and they're all important."
Golloway said he told the team "not be guilty of having one team on the bus, because we all know how important this South Carolina series is. I thought our guys showed a lot of maturity."
Auburn will be in South Carolina with Keegan Thompson, but Golloway said his ace pitcher won't go this weekend because of elbow discomfort. Thompson visited Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola this week and he recommended rest.
"We've got to be really careful. Keegan has a legitimate chance to pitch in the big leagues," Golloway said. "We're going to be week by week. I still feel like we're going to get him back."
Still, Auburn's sparkling ERA over the last six games are without Thompson.
Kyler Deese made things easier for Clements when he hit a 3-run homer in the second inning. Ebert and Daniel Robert also drove in runs for Auburn.
"The main thing is," Ebert said, "when you've got a dude out there battling on the mound like we have every night, you just want to back him up any way you can.
"It takes a lot of stress off the batters, knowing he's going to pitch for you no matter what, and you need to hit for him because it's your job to back your players up."
Will Thompson pitched two perfect innings in relief for Auburn.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine