Auburn Opens Three-Game Set at LSU Thursday
Andrew Mitchell will get his first weekend start of the season on Thursday at LSU (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Dakota Sumpter)
#14 Auburn Baseball (32-18, 14-10 SEC) looks to get back in the win column, and to redeem themselves in NCAA Regional talk this weekend at #10 LSU (32-17, 15-9 SEC). Auburn enters the weekend losers of four-straight games dating back to May 5 at home against Alabama. The Crimson Tide swept Auburn at Plainsman Park last weekend in what turned out to be an odd series. Rain in the forecast for Friday’s opener forced the first two games of the series to be played in doubleheader form on Saturday. Alabama took both games by one run. Auburn looked to salvage a game on Sunday, but could not grab a lead in the 15-inning, six-hour-and-thirty-six-minute affair, falling 11-9. In the final mid-week game of the year on Tuesday against UAB, Will Holland and Damon Haecker posted RBI, but the Blazer offense was too much, defeating Auburn 8-2. The four-game losing streak moves Auburn down in the RPI to 40, but the Tigers are still gaining respect across the four major polls, ranking as high as #13. SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION LSU took two of three from South Carolina over the weekend, winning the final two games after falling by one run on Friday against the Gamecocks. In Saturday’s game, Cole Freeman hit his first triple of the season in the fifth inning, scoring Kramer Robertson and Zach Watson to give LSU a 2-1 lead. Freeman scored on the next at-bat on an Antoine Duplantis sacrifice fly. Watson plated the final two runs in the sixth inning on a single. Left-hander Jared Poche’ allowed one run on three hits in seven innings of work in LSU’s 5-2 win. LSU needed extra innings to win the series over South Carolina, Duplantis singled home Watson in the 10th inning to grab the 7-6 win. The Bayou Bengals have lost three SEC series this season, losing two of three to Florida, Texas A&M, and Kentucky. Their most recent series loss came to Kentucky April 21-23. Since then, LSU has swept Alabama and has taken two of three from South Carolina. Four batters are hitting above .300, led by Greg Deichmann. The junior leads the team in average with .333, hits with 16, home runs with 16, and in RBI with 57. Freeman, Duplantis, and Watson are also hitting above .300, with Robertson looming in the shadows, batting .297. PITCHING Coach Butch Thompson is shaking up the pitching rotation this weekend. Andrew Mitchell will get his first SEC start of the season on Thursday night, while Keegan Thompson and Casey Mize will pitch Friday and Saturday respectively. The decision put that rotation in place stems from the odd series last weekend that saw the Tigers play two games on Saturday, and this weekend’s series beginning on Thursday. Thompson wants to ensure that all three-weekend starters each have the same amount of rest time. Which is beneficial considering that both Keegan Thompson and Casey Mize have struggled with nagging injuries over the last few weeks. Davis Daniel is available to pitch, and will probably do so from the bullpen. LSU will go with their usual rotation of Alex Lange, Jared Poche’, and Eric Walker. Thursday’s starter, Lange, leads the weekend starters in strikeouts with 91, five more than Auburn’s Casey Mize. Lange has a 3.27 ERA and is 5-5. Poche’ is 8-3 with a 3.33 ERA. Eric Walker has struck out 55 batters in 12 appearances, with a 5-1 record. AUBURN Daniel Robert feels that he is ready to go this weekend. Robert stated that he tweaked something in his elbow while pitching, and felt sore, which caused him to miss a majority of the series with Alabama. Luke Jarvis is still questionable due to complications from back spasms. He was lifted in the fifth inning of game one on Saturday against Alabama and has not played since. Jonah Todd continues to lead the team with a .383 average. Robert is second, batting .300. Todd’s 16-game hitting streak was broken on Tuesday at UAB. During the streak, the junior hit .477 with 17 R. Dylan Ingram has also been on a tear recently. In his last 16 games, Ingram has seven home runs and 21 RBI. His eight home runs lead the team. Speaking of the long ball, after hitting only 10 in their first 34 games, Auburn has hit 15 home runs as a team in their last 16 games. #14 Auburn battles #10 LSU this weekend, beginning Thursday at 6:15 P.M. at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.