We almost didn't write this week's article. We were not able to produce a pitching scouting report last week, and look what happened.
Alas, we decided to mess with fate.
Auburn earned a big sweep last weekend against Tennessee to keep their NCAA and SEC tournament hopes alive. They will travel to Athens, Ga., this weekend, looking to keep the hot bats going.
The players had the entire week off due to finals. Other than those who will take summer classes, their concentration will be solely on baseball for the final stretch. Both teams are vying for the few remaining spots left in the SEC tournament, and both teams still have a shot at the NCAA tournament as well.
Here's who Auburn will be taking their hacks against and a look at their performances over the last two weeks:
Friday: LHP Alex Wood (5-1, 2.69)
Alex Wood is a red shirt sophomore who is in his second full season as a starter for UGA. In the SEC last year as a Friday night starter mostly, Wood went 3-5 with a 4.92 ERA. One of those wins was over South Carolina who was #4 at the time. He pitched into the ninth in that game.
Two weeks ago, Wood was the starter in the craziest SEC baseball game of the year. The game lasted 16 innings and approached the five hour mark. Wood pitched eight innings and had a quality start. He allowed two runs -- both of them earned. He fanned seven UF players and had four walks in those eight innings. Wood obviously did not get a decision in this game that UGA eventually lost.
Last week against LSU, Wood again pitched deep into the game. He pitched into the seventh inning after allowing some early scoring from LSU. The Tigers scored one in the first and two in the second inning. Those were the only earned runs he allowed. He struck out two and walked two in the outing. He had a 10/7 ground ball / fly out ratio.
Wood consistently pitches deep into the game for UGA and keeps the games close. Wood can get into trouble but it appears that he has the knack to get out of it thanks to timely defense by UGA.
Saturday: RHP Michael Palazzone (2-5, 5.40)
Palazzone was a highly touted recruit coming out of Lassiter High School in Marietta, Ga. He was drafted in the 18th round by the hometown Atlanta Braves, but he chose to go play for UGA over the major leagues. He is now a senior and has been drafted each of the last two years. Michael was drafted by the Indians in the 32nd round in 2010 and by the Brewers in the 24th round in 2011.
Palazzone set the Bulldogs up for a series win when he had a quality start against Florida after UGA lost that Friday. He pitched 8 complete innings while the Gators could only manage six hits. He allowed three earned runs while striking out six and walking only one. That win moved Pallazone into ninth place in UGA history with his 19th career win.
Against LSU last weekend, Palazzone got an early hook because of back spasms. He pitched four innings, giving up two runs in the first inning. He struck out two Tigers and did not issue any walks. We'll be interested to see how his back responds on Saturday.
Sunday: RHP Luke Crumley (1-2, 4.44)
Luke Crumley is a true freshman from Cleveland, Ga. According to Perfect Game USA, he was the number eight prep player in the state of Georgia last year.
Two weeks ago against UF, Crumley made his first career start and didn't stay on the hill long. He went three innings for UGA and faced twelve batters. He allowed a lead off home run to start the second inning, and that was the only run he allowed. He issued three walks and had zero strikeouts.
Coach Perno stretched Crumley out for one more inning last weekend against LSU. He lasted four innings.Typical of a freshman, he had some control issues again. He walked four batters and struck out three while allowing five hits.
Auburn needs to be patient at the plate on Sunday and make the true freshman throw strikes. Runners are going to be put on base if the last two weeks are any indication. This will be his first home SEC start, so he will have some familiarity with his surroundings and will probably be a little more confident on the hill.