Tigers Continue Peach State Road Trip This Weekend in Athens
Friday starter Keegan Thompson is 4-0 with a 0.78 ERA in five starts this season
(Photo: Auburn Athletics/Dakota Sumpter)
For the first time in the young conference schedule, the Auburn Tigers (18-5, 3-0 SEC) will play a SEC series away from home, as they travel to Athens, Georgia to face the Bulldogs (9-13, 0-3 SEC). The Tigers enter the series on a hot streak, winners of eight straight after picking up a 7-4 mid-week win over Georgia Tech on Tuesday. Three of those wins came last weekend at Plainsman Park when Auburn swept then #5 Florida for the first time in 30 years, being one of six teams that picked up a sweep on opening weekend. The sweep was major in the eyes of the national media, as Auburn moved into the top-25 in four polls, ranked as high as #16 according to Collegiate Baseball. Some amazing feats have been accomplished over the last eight games, including the Auburn bats recording 15 doubles over the last four, the bullpen ERA dropping to 1.35 ERA over the last 33.1 IP, and Will Holland earning SEC Freshman of the Week honors after batting .400 with six hits, four RBI, and a home run in five games against UAB, Jacksonville State, and Florida. Pitching: Auburn’s rotation will remain the same heading into Athens, with ace Keegan Thompson getting the nod on Friday, Casey Mize on Saturday, and the freshman Davis Daniel closing out the series on Sunday. TEAM ERA: 2.33 Thompson was lights out again last week, as he earned his 4th win of the year in Auburn’s 14-3 decision over Florida. Thompson struck out a season-best eight batters over 6.1 innings, allowing an earned run and three hits, walking two. Mize mirrored Thompson’s performance on Saturday, by striking out eight as well. In 7 innings, Mize allowed five hits and an unearned run. Daniel’s outing was short-lived last Sunday, as he allowed four runs in 2.1 innings of work. His best outing came against Presbyterian on March 12 when he struck out eight in six innings, earning his first collegiate win. Friday-Saturday-Sunday for the Bulldogs will look like this: Andrew Gist (Friday), Tony Locey (Saturday), and Chase Adkins (Sunday). TEAM ERA: 5.56 Gist earned his second start of the season last Friday in the series opener at LSU, going 1.1 innings, allowing six runs on five hits. Prior to last Friday, Gist struck out six in 4.2 innings against Mercer on February 21. Getting the start on Saturday is freshman Tony Locey. Before transferring to Houston County High School in Warner Robins, Georgia prior to his senior season, Locey and Auburn’s Josh Anthony were teammates at Hardaway High School in Columbus, Georgia for two years. Locey is 2-3 with a 7.65 ERA, 18 K, and 17 ER in five starts. Coastal Carolina transfer Chase Adkins will round out the series on Sunday. In his first season in Athens, Adkins has 21 strikeouts and 10 earned runs allowed in 30.1 innings. Batting: The Tigers hold an advantage in hitting, .302 to .263. Five Tiger batters in the projected starting lineup are hitting above .300, with on-base percentages no lower than .314. The top batters through one week of SEC play are Jay Estes and Blake Logan. Estes went 5-for-9 with four doubles and three RBI in last weekend’s sweep of Florida, with Logan notching a triple and a .500 average. Will Holland is now batting .308 after his breakout weekend. In Friday’s 14-3 win over the Gators, Holland went 2-for-4 with four RBI and a home run. Jonah Todd leads the Tigers in average (.341) and runs (22), while Daniel Robert holds the lead in RBI with 19. Keegan McGovern leads the Bulldogs in average with .348, but the key bat to watch for this weekend is Michael Curry. Curry leads the team in RBI with 25, and home runs with five through the first 22 games of the season. Four players have at least 10 RBI on the season to this point (McGovern, Curry, Will Proctor, Aaron Schunk). Georgia is not shy when it comes to hitting the long ball, either. As a team, Georgia has 21 home runs, with everyone in the projected lineup hitting at least one. Top performers after week one of SEC play are Will Proctor, Will Campbell, and Cam Shepherd. Proctor earned four RBI in the LSU series on five hits including a double and a home run. Campbell sent four across the plate, while Shepherd led the team with seven hits in 13 at-bats. Series Notes: Auburn enters the series with Georgia winners of eight straight. Their longest win streak since winning 11 in a row during the 2009 season. Six Tigers will be going home this weekend. Jeremy Johnson, Josh Anthony, Will Holland, Trevor Hillhouse, Conor Davis, and Elliot Anderson all hail from Georgia. Coaches Butch Thompson and Doug Sisson are returning to Athens. Thompson served as Georgia’s pitching coach from 2002-05, and Sisson was the associate head coach on the Bulldog’s staff from 2006-07. Auburn will face Georgia for the first time since 2015 and will be visiting Foley Field for the first time since 2012. The home team holds a sweep in the last two series. Georgia swept Auburn in 2012, while Auburn took all three at Plainsman Park in 2015. Three Auburn players will reunite with former teammates in this series. Jeremy Johnson, Trey Logan (Lambert HS), Will Holland, Riley King (Collins Hill HS), and Josh Anthony, Tony Locey (Hardaway HS) were all teammates in high school. Georgia is also one of three SEC teams that feature brothers on their roster, Drew and Logan Moody. Drew, a redshirt junior for the Bulldogs, has six appearances with one start on the season, striking out four in 11.1 innings of work. Logan has recorded 18 starts in two seasons, primarily in right field. The sophomore is currently batting .231 with three hits in 13 plate appearances this season. #16 Auburn battles Georgia this weekend in the first road series of the conference schedule. Game one is scheduled for 6 P.M. Friday, 1 P.M. on Saturday, and noon on Sunday. All times central.