The final weekend of the regular season is here, as Auburn plays host to Arkansas at Plainsman Park. Believe it or not, the Tigers still have a chance to play their way into the NCAA Tournament, something that seemed impossible after the series loss at Missouri three weeks ago. If they can win their third straight SEC series, their odds will only increase.
Auburn's offensive hot streak continued, as the Tigers hit two doubles and two home runs to extend their winning streak to five.
Michael O'Neal was one out away from a complete game, 5-1 win. But then he gave up a three-run shot, and Reid Carter came on and allowed the winning run to score.
The Tigers showed a ton of moxie to bounce back from Saturday night's rough loss. Ryan Tella hit his second three-run homer of the series to provide the winning margin.
Needing all the wins they can get, the Tigers dropped a winnable home game to the Gamecocks. If Auburn barely misses the NCAA Tournament, this game will play a role.
No.11 Arkansas(34-17, 17-9)
at Auburn (31-20, 11-16)
Thursday, 6 p.m. CT
LHP Conner Kendrick (4-3, 2.25 ERA) vs. RHP Barrett Astin (4-3, 2.21 ERA)
Friday, 6 p.m. CT
LHP Michael O'Neal (8-3, 2.85 ERA) vs. RHP Ryne Stanek (7-2, 1.70 ERA)
Saturday, 1 p.m. CT
TBA vs. RHP Randall Fant (5-1, 2.00 ERA)
|Batting average||Garrett Cooper, .360||Brian Anderson, .339|
|On-base percentage||Garrett Cooper, .477||Brian Anderson, .447|
|Runs||Ryan Tella, 41||Brian Anderson, 40|
|RBIs||Ryan Tella, 37||Tyler Spoon, 43|
|Doubles||Three players with 12||Brian Anderson, 10|
|Triples||Five players with 1||Brian Anderson, 4|
|Home runs||Cooper and Damek Tomscha, 7||Anderson and Spoon, 4|
|Stolen bases||Ryan Tella, 13-of-15||Matt Vinson, 8-of-9|
|Errors||Dan Glevenyak, 15||Brian Anderson, 20|
|Starting ERA||Conner Kendrick, 2.25||Ryne Stanek, 1.70|
|Relief ERA||Justin Camp, 2.13||Tyler Wright, 0.00|
|Starting BA against||Michael O'Neal, .228||Randall Fant, .200|
|Relief BA against||Reid Carter, .212||Michael Gunn, .114|
|Strikeouts||Conner Kendrick, 66||Ryne Stanke, 68|
|Wins||Michael O'Neal, 8-3||Ryne Stanek, 7-2|
|Saves||Terrance Dedrick, 8||Colby Suggs, 10|
Around the SEC
Alabama at No. 1 Vanderbilt
No. 23 Ole Miss at No. 2 LSU
No. 14 South Carolina at No 24 Mississippi State
Florida at Georgia
Texas A&M at Tennessee
Kentucky at Missouri
Auburn is trying to scratch and claw its way into the NCAA Tournament, and getting a series win against the Razorbacks would provide a big boost to the Tigers' odds. In his latest regional projections, Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers appears to have Auburn as the first team out of the tournament, and he says winning two of three against Arkansas "would likely put (the Tigers) on the good side of the bubble" going into the SEC Tournament. So, to say this season-ending series is crucial would be an understatement.
Despite the Hogs coming in with a projected RPI of 41, compared to Auburn's 35, the Tigers shouldn't be considered favorites. Arkansas has an excellent 17-9 conference record and the best pitching in the SEC. If the John Pawlowski's team isn't patient at the plate and fails to have consistently good at-bats, it will be long weekend. However, the Razorbacks aren't a great hitting team, and they lead the conference in errors. When their opponents commit at least one error, the Hogs are 23-6, but they're just 11-11 when opposing teams are error-free. And when Arkansas pitchers give up at least three runs, the team is 9-17.
So if Auburn can play clean baseball and take advantage of opportunities on offense, they'll have a great chance to take at least two games. Although, those are big "ifs."