Inconceivable as it may be, our Auburn Tigers are on a six game winning streak. Auburn has won nine of its last ten since Tax Day. Most of these wins have come against competition Auburn should beat but given our history over the last dozen years, that's still a minor miracle. This weekend, things get real as the Tigers travel to Columbia, South Carolina.
South Carolina is a recent baseball powerhouse. The Gamecocks won back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011 and finished runner up in 2012. Fortunately, we don't have to play those guys. Instead, we get to play the 2014 edition that is sitting at 26-19, 9-12 in conference play. This South Carolina team is very good, but they aren't invincible.
South Carolina is led offensively by First Baseman Kyle Martin. Kyle is 6'1" 240 with a good eye and good patience at the plate. His offensive talent has him on the midseason Golden Spikes award watch list. He bats .344 with 9 homeruns and has more walks than strikeouts. Additionally, he's deceptively good on the basepaths, stealing seven bags in eight attempts to which Ty Cobb says
On the mound, the Gamecock's best weapon is the big junior southpaw, Jack Wyncoop. Jack is an unlucky 6-4 with a 2.71 era. Like Keegan Thompson, Wyncoop throws deep into games, including a complete game win against Vanderbilt this year.
Against common conference opponents (Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Georgia) South Carolina is 4-5 and Auburn is 6-3. Strangely, South Carolina's sole series win was against Vandy while Auburn's sole series loss came against the Dores.
Tonight's game promises to be the best game of the weekend with Cole Lipscomb toeing the rubber against Jack Wyncoop. Strangely, that game is the only one that won't be on regular network television. You'll have to watch online on the SEC Network + or catch the audio on the Auburn App or your local Auburn Network affiliate. First pitch is at 6 Central.
Saturday Rocky McCord and Sunday Dalton Rentz will face the dreaded South Carolina starter, TBA. That TBA must have a rubber arm and a great agent because we faced him a few weeks back against Arkansas. McCord and Rentz have developed into good SEC starters. If Keegan gets healthy by tournament time, Auburn will have a deep roster to turn to and could be a tough out. Saturday's game can be seen on the SEC Network at 2:30 Central. Sunday, the Tigers start at 1 Central on ESPNU.
South Carolina needs this series worse than Auburn does. South Carolina has an RPI of 71 and the worst part of its schedule remains ahead of it. After Auburn, South Carolina travels to Texas A&M then hosts LSU to close out the season. What that means is that if South Carolina loses this series to Auburn, it will likely not make a NCAA Regional and may not even make the SEC tournament.
Auburn will survive a series loss at South Carolina but a series win would go a long way towards solidifying a two seed in an NCAA Regional. Picking up two wins in the Palmetto State won't be easy for the Tigers because we will be without our ace starter, Keegan Thompson.
Remember Tiger fans, respect the streak. Whatever you're wearing, not wearing, listening to, watching, eating, drinking, or doing during game time, keep it up as the Tigers crawl back to relevance.