Auburn baseball hosts two instate rivals this week as the Alabama State Hornets tonight at Plainsman Park. The game starts at 6 and can be streamed online on the SEC Network + with Audio available on your AU Gameday App. The Hornets are surprisingly good. They're sitting right now at 23-11 overall and 12-3 in SWAC conference play, so the game should be close.
Here's what you need to know for tonight's matchup against Alabama State: The Hornets hail from Montgomery where they have a snazzy new football stadium overlooking I-85. The Hornets have many famous alumni such as Ralph David Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth, Fred Gray, and Clarence Carter. I'm a huge fan of Clarence; I celebrate his entire catalogue so this preview has more Clarence Carter puns and song links than necessary.
The Tigers have a 9-1 all time series lead over the Hornets including a 7-5 win earlier this year despite the Hornets Strokin' 14 hits. I'd Rather Go Blind than see that sort of performance again out of Auburn's pitching staff. With any luck, Auburn will pull it out as they continue to build their NCAA tournament resume Step by Step.
Auburn currently has a 21-15 record so these midweek games are critical to Auburn's post season hopes. Auburn is ranked #22 in the RPI but with a conference record of 5-10, there's work to be done to reach Hoover, much less an NCAA Regional. All most Auburn fans want for Christmas is for Auburn baseball to sneak into an NCAA Regional through the Back Door, Santa. The Tigers keep offering us hope, then Snatching It Back. Here's hoping Sunny can get the Tigers Doin' Our Thing more consistently going forward rather than just in spurts and Patches.
Tonight, Dalton Rentz takes the mound for the Tigers. The 6'4" 225 pound righty ("Funny, I thought he'd be bigger") has been effective for the Tigers this year, going 1-1 with a 3.67 ERA in 15 appearances and two starts. Alabama State is throwing Tyler Howe, who is 1-0 with a 4.88 ERA in 6 starts.
The Hornets have some legitimate offensive weapons including a pair of Puerto Rican outfielders, Cesar Rivera and Waldyvan Estrada. Cesar is hitting .421 with five home runs on the year. Waldyvan is hitting .346 with 7 dingers.
Auburn has a lot of promotions for tonight's ball game so come out and take your pick. You can either get in free, cheap, or with all the food you can eat:
• All You Can Eat Seats: For just $20 you receive a reserved ticket to the game and a wristband to receive ‘all you can eat’ (drinks, popcorn, hotdog, nachos and pretzels) from the Curveball Café
• Pajama Party: Come dressed in your best pajamas and receive complimentary admission. You will also be entered to win great prizes like a baseball movie pack, movie theater gift cards and a sleeping bag.
• Student Hot Dog Giveaway: First 250 students through the gate receive a voucher for a free hot dog redeemable at the Curveball Café
• ‘Twosday’: $2 Tickets and select concession items are just $2
• Twitter Tunes: Tweet your song requests to @AuburnTigers and @Auburn_Baseball with hashtag #AUTwitterTunes
• Post-game Autographs: The team will sign autographs at the left field wall
So come join the party. Slip Away early from work if you can. The weather is beautiful, The Feeling Is Right and the Time is Right Now. If you can't find parking in the deck try your luck At the Dark End of the Street. War Eagle, everybody. Let's get some runs.