Auburn and Kentucky didn't meet this year, but I'm still plenty pissed at the Cats for how last year's series went down. It was emblematic of everything that went wrong for the Tigers last spring. In the Sunday rubber match, Auburn scored four runs in an early inning for once because the Cats kept throwing balls to the Auburn players who just wanted to sacrifice themselves to move the runners over. Auburn later gave up two unearned runs in the 6th before the bullpen blew the game in the 9th. It caused me to rage drink over a baseball loss. I am so glad Auburn gets a shot at these Cats. A loss closes the door on Kentucky's postseason and would give me closure. Don't get me wrong Kentucky, in general, we're cool. Thanks for the horse racing, bourbon, and mountain scenery but for the next 24 hours, "lay on MacDuff and damned be he that first cries 'HOLD ENOUGH!'"
Neither team has listed a starter yet but I would expect Auburn to go with Cole Lipscomb who has become the ace with Keegan Thompson out and doubtful to return. Kentucky only has three regular starters so it will probably go with its Friday night guy, Zack Brown. Brown is fresh off a complete game shutout of Missouri so look for signs of fatigue early against the Tigers. If the Tigers can get to the bullpen early, they have a chance to put up big runs late as Kentucky only has one reliever with an ERA under 4.00.
Kentucky is led offensively by its all conference second baseman, Javon Shelby. Shelby hit .318 with nine homeruns. Second team All-SEC centerfielder Kyle Barrett is a singles machine who hit .352 and should take to the expansive Hoover Met like a duck takes to water. Another offensive threat is the speedy Hawaiian left fielder, Ka'ai Tom, Tom hit .368 with four homeruns and swiped 15 bags on 16 attempts.
I see this game as the reverse of last year's heartbreaker. Look for the starters to keep both offenses in check but for Auburn to pull it out in the last three innings for a 4-2 win.
For the record, I think Auburn makes a regional even if we lose but it will be significantly easier if we win.
From our SB Nation SEC Site Team Speed Kills:
Fun fact: Auburn is 2.5 games behind Ole Miss in the conference and one place ahead of them in the RPI. But they're also going in different directions. The Tigers fell a few spots in the most recent batch of RPIs, and Ole Miss jumped six places. (And consider Missouri, which is two games up on Auburn in the conference and a whopping 34 places behind them in the RPIs.) I'm not sure how close Auburn is to getting a regional hosting slot -- my guess is not very -- but, regardless, it won't happen without winning this game. Kentucky, meanwhile, sits at No. 56 in the RPI and is the same boat at Missouri, South Carolina and Alabama: Lose this once and they're out. Win this one and they're still a long way from in.
How to Watch, Stream, and Listen Live:
Time: 4:30 pm CDT
Watch: SEC Network
Stream: WatchESPN / SEC Network+
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