Final Exams vs #19 Auburn
Auburn got a break from the field during the midweek for the first time since the beginning of March, and it was much needed I assure you. After their last break in the schedule, the Tigers rattled off 14 wins in a row to push their record to 20-2 and 4-0 in the conference (those were magical days). Since that Friday night win in Starkville, things have taken a turn south as Auburn is a very concerning 7-15 and 6-11 in SEC play. While, sure, Cincinnati, UTSA and UT-Martin are not, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Vanderbilt, there were still games that Auburn could have won on a bounce or not being able to get that one big hit or one big pitch. There was the 20-15 slugfest on Sunday in Starkville, where if Auburn has one arm that can get a couple of zeros, Auburn wins the series. Don’t forget the 15 inning loss in game 2 of the Double Header against Arkansas where Auburn wins the series if it isn’t for a slip around 3rd base. And finally, the what might have been if Auburn was able to cash in on any of the bases loaded situations they had against Vanderbilt this past weekend that could have made game 2 and game 3 much more interesting and probably puts the game towards the Tigers. While school work was the focus this week, rest and refocusing is also a product of this weekend as the Tigers gear up for the next season. From here on, Auburn should look at these as NCAA Regional type games, and it all starts with a team trying to have a May to remember in the Crimson Tide.
Around the League
- vs Tennessee Tech, TUE: 21-10 W
Well there is the offense I thought I would see last weekend. To gloat on the Auburn pitchers for a moment, this is what Vandy can do if you aren’t on your game. Ok, that said, wow...what an offensive show. It was 15-0 Dores by the end of the 4th and that was more than enough against a team that went to a Super Regional last year (ps, that makes them 4-0 in the last for games against teams from Supers last season, which they were as well). Oh, and it was Bark in the Park at Hawkins Field Tuesday...
- vs The Citadel, TUE: 9-0 W
Nothing to see here, have a great time with Florida this weekend Bulldogs, as they try to get back on the winning track.
- vs Grambling, TUE: 17-3 W
Another win for a very good Arkansas team. I am expecting a sweep this weekend in Lexington by the road team as they try to keep up with Vandy.
#11 Texas A&M
- @ Sam Houston St, TUE: 15-5 W/7
It’s always nice when you can get a run-rule in the midweek. The coach’s have to agree to it prior to the game but when they do and it happens, it really helps and it doubly does for State this weekend as they host Mississippi State, those last 6 outs and not having to use an arm to get you there will definitely come in handy.
#24 Ole Miss
- @ Southern Miss, WED: 5-3 L
Not a bad loss as Southern Miss currently leads Conference USA but it is a loss after a huge series sweep of the Aggies last weekend and a monster road series against LSU this weekend. This weekend will really define the Ole Miss season with remaining series’ against Mississippi State in Oxford next weekend and then a trip to Rocky Top to close things out.
- SE Missouri St, WED: 21-6 W
What can you say about Mizzou? At the beginning of the season they get hit with a postseason ban. Then, they decide to appeal the decision and look to be eligible once again for the post season and now they look as if they are a shoe-in to make the dance. Good for you Mizzou, now I just hope we don’t have to see them in Hoover…
On Deck (with SEC Schedule)
- #4 Mississippi State @ #16 Texas A&M (THU-SAT)
- #2 Vanderbilt @ South Carolina (FRI-SUN)
- #3 Arkansas @ Kentucky (FRI-SUN)
- Florida @ #9 Georgia (FRI-SUN)
- #19 Ole Miss @ #14 LSU (FRI-SUN)
- #18 Tennessee @ Missouri (FRI-SUN)
- Alabama @ #21 Auburn (FRI-SUN)
It’s somewhat of a ho-hum week in the conference and by that I mean there are only two true Top 25 matchups, and both are doozies, while three of the top 4 get matchups with teams in the bottom half of the standings. In Auburn’s case though, they get a very winnable matchup on paper but the name is one that makes this one personal. It’s the Iron Series at Plainsman Park this weekend as the Crimson Tide comes to town. Alabama comes in at 26-19 and 5-16 in league play but it isn’t for lack of effort. Friday night is the main night to take the Tide seriously. Sam Finnerty will toe the rubber with a 6-5 record overall, 3.74 ERA in 65 innings of work with a complete game to his credit. In his last outing, Finnerty out dueled LSU’s Zack Hess, going 6 innings of 5 hit ball with 6 Ks and a walk. Brock Love will more than likely be the Saturday starter and will bring in a 5.11 ERA in 44 innings and a 4-4 record. Sunday will be up for debate until Coach Bo says so. The last two weeks it’s been Jeremy Randolph, who has a 2.81 ERA and a 1-2 record in 32 innings of work. With the bats, Alabama is good but not dominant, with two hitters going over .300 in Kolby Robinson and Drew Williamson. The power guy to watch out for is Tyler Gentry with 10 dingers on the year. If you are looking for a strikeout, Gentry is also a good candidate along with Keith Holcombe who leads the team in punchouts.
For Auburn, this could be a dicy weekend however, as word is that Tanner Burns may sit out this week to rest his tight shoulder, much like Georgia sat out Emerson Hancock against Mississippi State this past weekend. I don’t expect him to be out after this weekend but, knowing how Coach Thompson likes to be very careful with his players, I would be surprised if he throws this weekend, but I could be wrong. That means that Brooks Fuller, Richard Fitts and a now ready to roll Jack Owen will have to be on point, as will the rest of the Auburn bullpen. This is a series Auburn can still win, in fact, they can sweep if they get everyone pulling in the same direction and not trying to do too much. That said, this is a series they have to win. Getting to .500 is paramount this weekend, because with a visit from Georgia and a trip to the Bayou after that, wins will be hard to come by from here on out.