Just over a month ago, Auburn met the Tide in Montgomery at Riverwalk Stadium and destroyed Alabama 10-1. Andrew Mitchell pitched a fantastic game back during his streak of midweek performances, and Alabama was forced to go through a number of pitchers.
What does that game tell us about this weekend's series? Nothing.
Neither team was using their best pitchers in that game, and Auburn's offense was still going strong with Josh Palacios and Daniel Robert in the lineup. Jackson Burgreen's big last few weeks has helped in their absence and Damon Haecker has come out of his early-season struggles in a big way, but missing Palacios has been huge. Robert has actually pitched at times since his injury but hasn't returned to the plate. Neither are expected to play this weekend.
When it comes to stats, Auburn's numbers are by far the better offensively in batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage. It's the other side of the plate where Alabama has the clear advantage with a better opponent's batting average, ERA, and opponent's ERA.
With that, and it's home-field in a newly renovated stadium against a big rival, it feels like the advantages swing Alabama's way. Auburn is going to need the defense to come through with minimal errors to take advantage of the starting pitching of Cole Lipscomb and Justin Camp, who have pitched very well, lately, if the Tigers want to take the series. Casey Mize has been excellent in relief, and Gabe Klobosits has done fairly well, too, but overall Auburn's bullpen has struggled. Getting the starters as deep into the game as they can go is essential.
Auburn's offense has been strong, but it's going to be facing three pitchers who all have very good ERAs. The Tigers will also be without Kyler Deese, who is serving a one-game suspension after being ejected from Sunday's Game 3 against Kentucky. Alabama's three announced starters, Geoffrey Bramblett, Jake Walters, and Nick Eicholtz have ERAs of 2.78, 1.99, and 1.89 respectively. This is not a game where Auburn can squander base-runners as the Tigers have all season long.
Auburn's starters will be the aforementioned Lipscomb and Camp, and then a player to be named later. That has fluctuated between a number of different pitchers over the last few weeks as the Tigers have never been able to find a consistent Game 3 starter.
The Tigers are on the bottom of the SEC, tied with Arkansas, at the moment. They're three games behind Alabama, so a sweep of the Tide - which is unlikely, but it could happen - would tie the two up. All but two teams make it to Hoover for the SEC Baseball Tournament, so Auburn needs to have a big few weekends to close the season out. That sweep by Arkansas in the second series of the year sure hurts right now.
How to Watch:
Friday: 7:00pm Central, WatchESPN/SEC Network+
Saturday, 6:00pm Central, SEC Network
Sunday, 3:00pm Central, SEC Network