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Clash of the West Division Tigers - Auburn Host No. 8 LSU

Derek Varnadore gets the start tonight against No. 8 LSU.
Derek Varnadore gets the start tonight against No. 8 LSU.

Last weekend Auburn won its fourth consecutive SEC opening series. The Tigers rallied with two ninth-inning runs to win 3-2 at No. 12 Ole Miss.

Down 2-1 with two outs in the ninth, Auburn had three different batters put up clutch hits to get the win. It was a great comeback especially coming on the road.

Auburn (13-8) will be at home tonight though, as they try to win their first-two SEC series since 2003. The Tigers take on visiting No.8 LSU (17-4) in a three-game series beginning at 6p.m.CST. It will be the second top 12 team for Auburn in two weeks.

Both teams are hitting pretty good with LSU ranked No.2 in the SEC with a .313 team batting average. Auburn is almost tied with that number with a .311 Team BA.

The Purple Tigers may have the best pitching in the SEC. However, Auburn pitching has been putting up some good numbers of late, as well. Auburn has held opponents to five runs or less in the last 10 games with an ERA of 2.33 and a 7-3 record over that period.

Auburn pitchers only gave up eight runs in three games in Oxford for a 2.7 run per game average. The bullpen also was very effective with a win and two saves in 8,1/3 shutout innings pitched.

In fact it's been the best performance of an Auburn staff since 2004 when the Tigers didn't allow more than five runs in a 10 game stretch and had a 2.30 ERA.

To be sure, LSU is a formidable opponent but this writer is feeling pretty good about the Orange and Blue Tigers.

To begin with the Auburn offense has outscored it's opponents 56-27 over that same stretch.

More importantly, in the last six games Auburn has cut the number of stranded runners almost in half. During the first 15 games the Tigers left an average of 10.5 runners on base per game but the last six has seen the number of LOB's cut to an average of 5.3 per game.

If the Orange and Blue win this weekend's series it will be the third straight series win over LSU, with Auburn having won the last two.

Both teams sit a game out of first place in the SEC West behind Arkansas(3-0). Both teams won their opening series last week end (but Auburn's win came on the road). Both teams will be led by three great pitchers.

John Pawlowski will be sending Derek Varnadore, Will Kendall, and Daniel Koger to the mound. LSU will counter with Kevin Gausman, Ryan Eades, and Aaron Nola.

It should be a great match up - a real pitching duel. But look for Auburn's league leading base stealers to run like the win and be the difference in this Clash of the West Division Tigers.


UPDATE: Good Guys win the series! Auburn took the first game 4-3 and downed LSU 3-2 in Saturday's contest. Auburn will attempt the sweep tomorrow at 1 pm behind the pitching of Daniel Koger.