Last week the Auburn Baseball team had a great week going 4-1 including consecutive SEC series wins over No.18 Ole Miss and No.19 Florida.
On Tuesday of that week, Auburn was trailing Jacksonville State 8-0 in the top of the 8th. Then the Tigers mounted a furious rally (with their biggest scoring inning in 13 years) to come from behind and beat the Gamecocks 12-8 giving Coach John Pawlowski his 500th career victory.
The Florida wins moved Auburn to a half a game out of ninth place in the SEC and secured the Tigers fourth straight SEC Tournament appearance. To be sure, it was a big week for Auburn Baseball. The Tigers finally looked like the team representative of the talent on the roster.
As big a week as it was … this, the final week may be even bigger. Although Auburn secured their spot in the conference tournament, the goal as it is every year, is to at a minimum – play in an NCAA Regional.
The Tigers are one of three SEC Teams that are most likely on the bubble for making a regional (the other two being Bama and Kentucky). They hurt those chances last night when they lost a home game to Jacksonville State.
Auburn has come from behind 20 times this season including last week’s barn burner at JSU. But this time it couldn’t find a way to make it happen, losing to the Gamecocks 6-1 and damaging their case for making the NCAA post season.
The previous week’s record improved the Tigers RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) from 56 to 28. Twenty eight is a strong RPI and that’s what’s needed for a bubble team to get serious consideration from the NCAA selection committee. The Jax State loss will certainly hurt that rating.
Auburn’s pitching staff has performed well enough this year with a staff ERA of 3.37. While the offense had been in a slump, the bats really came alive last week, especially with clutch hitting. Of the 15 runs Auburn scored at Florida, 12 of them came with two outs. And the 31 wins for the season already equal what the team finished with in 2012. However, what matters the most to the selection committee are wins and RPI.
Auburn plays their final series Thursday through Saturday against Arkansas. The Tigers have got to win at least two games to strengthen their position for the post season.
Last year Auburn missed the NCAA due to a low RPI. So this final series is critical both for seeding in the SEC Tournament and for keeping their hopes alive for their first Regional since 2010.
With three games left against the No.11 Razorbacks, time is running out for the Tigers, it’s now or never.
Go Tigers, Beat dem Hogs!