Alabama @ #11 Auburn
- FRI: 3-2 W
- SAT: 6-4 W
- SUN: No Contest
It really couldn’t have been a better weekend for the Tigers. Save for 1 inning, the pitching from the Tigers was spot on.
And that’s not to mention Friday night when John Armstrong looked like he did earlier this season and went 2.2 of 1 hit ball with 3 Ks, giving way to Blake Burkhalter in the 9th for yet another save, his 12th on the year. For those keeping score at home, the pin held Bama to no runs in 11.2 innings. *chef’s kiss*. Then throw in Gonzo on Sunday (even though it didn’t happen) when he was fantastic outside of back to back doubles scored the lone run for the Tide, but with a pitch count at 52 through 5, you have to think that Joseph was well on his way to another 7-8 inning work day before giving way to Burky or Skipper to close things out. Why do I feel so confident about Sunday? The game finished with Auburn loading the bases, 1 out and Bobby Peirce at the dish. What might have been but it was a positive weekend overall. Auburn did what they needed to do and they didn’t get dinged with a loss. They were able to raise their RPI back up to top 5 which, should they hold it there, will be a very compelling piece to the committee to give them a national seed, especially if they win a game or 2 in Hoover which they are very capable of doing.
Sorry, I got distracted though, Auburn sssssweeeept Alabama.
Even better, on Saturday, Alabama raced out to a 4-0 lead after 1…that was the last time the Tide would cross the plate that day.
The offense was just good enough and picked their spots against a stingy and tough Alabama team. Watching Alabama this weekend, it haunted me of the Auburn team from last year, so very talented at spots but just not able to get on the same page at the same time. If they weren’t wearing that crimson jersey, I’d almost feel bad for them.
So where does that leave things with one weekend to go:
And for those scoring at home, here is what that bracket looks like:
Yeah…No State, which, let me sound the SPOILER ALERT, if Mississippi State doesn’t make Hoover, no amount of committee love is getting them into the tournament State fans.
So, due to the “It didn’t happen” Sunday game, the Tigers find themselves down 1.5 games to Texas A&M and Arkansas going to Lexington. It really is ok in the long run, Arkansas heads to Alabama for a series while Texas A&M and suddenly red hot Ole Miss tangle in Oxford, so those two will figure themselves out for the division with Auburn minding its own business with Kentucky. The most important stat is that Auburn is now a game and a half ahead of Georgia, Vandy and LSU for that 4th spot and the final bye in Hoover. It is massive for the Tigers to get that bye for obvious reasons. Should Auburn take care of their business in Lexington (2 out of 3) then that would give Auburn 17 wins and make them a slam dunk to host. If they can get a game or 2 more either in Lexington or Hoover, now we are in Top 8 Seed territory and things get real fun.
HITTING PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEKEND
I am actually gonna go outside the box this weekend. Blake Ramsbusch was the best at the dish for Auburn but that’s not anything new. I am going to give it to Gabe Gross. Saturday the Tiger staff decided to shake up the lineup, putting Brody Moore in the leadoff with Sonny D in the 2 hole and Blake Rambusch to protect. The first 3 innings of both days were a little off while everyone figured out their new spot, but after that things go interest. Auburn began the march back on Saturday with a solo shot from Bobby P in the 4th, then the bottom of the line up sparked things for the top in the 5th and then it was just a matter of time. Same thing Sunday, slow the first time through and then the offense finally started to figure things out in the 5th as I noted above.
I wasn’t sure about the new line up at first but after seeing it in action, I am in love with it. It protects your best chance to change the game with a swing and sets things up for later in the game. Kudos to the Staff for the move.
PITCHING PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEKEND
Another easy one, this is Tommy Sheehan. The Grad Transfer from Notre Dame has not had the season he hoped coming off of Tommy John Surgery but man has he come alive with Huddy’s counseling. Sheehan went 4 innings, filling in for Trace Bright who just didn’t have it on Saturday, and only allowed 1 hit with a walk and 4 Ks. He was able to eat up innings and give the Tiger offense time to get back into the game and get, what turned out to be an even bigger win than we realized in the moment.
It’s a road week for the Tigers and an early one at that. Auburn heads to the Hoover Met to take on Samford in the final non-conference game of the season on Tuesday evening. If you are in Birmingham, you know what to do. Get out there and celebrate this team. They will be back there next week so you can scope out the best parking areas. After that, Auburn heads to Lexington for a pivotal series with Kentucky. The Cats come in just above the wire this weekend over Miss State and Mizzou for the final spot in Hoover and will be looking to lock that in. Auburn is fighting for everything we’ve already said above. This will be a tooth an nail series but if Auburn plays like it has all season, the Tigers can take this on the road. We will dive deeper into Kentucky on Wednesday. For now, just enjoy sweeping the Tide!