It’s Crunch Time for the Tigers – (Update: Tigers Win Arkansas Series!)
Dillon Ortman, tied for the most wins in the SEC, will take the mound in first game of Ark. series. (photo:Zach Bland/Auburn media)
Auburn Baseball will travel to Arkansas tonight for a battle with the Razorbacks to stay relative in the SEC West. After opening the SEC season with two series wins over Texas A&M and Tennessee, the Tigers have struggled to stay with the pack, dropping the last four series.
Although Auburn (23-19,7-11 SEC) is currently in last place in the West, they are only three games behind second place LSU. With four series left to play, the Tigers have a chance to get back in to the race if they can take care of business beginning tonight in Fayetteville.
One of the best things about baseball is the fact teams meet for more than one game and anything can happen to reshuffle the standings.
Arkansas’s season is a good example of that:
The Hogs (27-16,9-9 SEC) were in last place in the standings before taking series wins over Alabama, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Their resurgence has come from strong pitching. Razorback hurlers have a team ERA of just 2.29. Friday night’s starter Jalen Beeks (5-3, 1.49) carries a .207 ERA with 54 strike outs, while opponents are hitting only .207 against him.
It will definitely be a challenge, but it’s not like the Tigers haven’t been playing some good ball themselves lately:
Auburn has been error free in three of their last four games; committing just one error in 115 chances against South Carolina for a .991 fielding percentage. The team ranks second in the SEC with 67 stolen bases on the year. Jordan Ebert is the second-leading hitter in the SEC (.373). Senior pitcher Dillon Ortman is tied for the most wins in the league (7-2) and freshman Keegan Thompson has the SEC’s fourth-best ERA (1.66) and third-lowest opposing batting average (.187).
The difference between these two teams is:
Auburn just doesn’t have the W’s to show for their effort. Four of their last five losses were one run games including two versus South Carolina last weekend. However, the Plainsman bounced back with a 6-1 win over South Alabama on Tuesday night. A series win at Arkansas could represent a potential turn around for the season.
The big thing for Sunny Golloway’s team is to finish out those close games. In two of the games against South Carolina the Tigers had the tying and go-ahead runs on with one out late in the game, but couldn’t get them home. To rally and have a chance for the post season, they have to find away to close out those tight games. Do that and Auburn can be right back in the thick of things. And this weekend is a good place to start.
Auburn is 41-33 all-time against Arkansas having won the last four weekend series. The Tigers need to continue that winning streak to keep their hopes alive for the post season. It’s now or never. It’s crunch time for the Tigers.
Beat them Hogs!
Tonight’s game will be at 6:35 p.m. CT. Fans can watch the game at ESPN.com. or listen on the Auburn IMG Radio Network. For a list of the affiliates, click here.
Game 1 Update: Tigers WIN 2-1. Dillon Ortman went 8 1/3 innings and Terrance Dedrick came on in relief to finish off the Razorbacks.
Sunday’s game has been moved to Saturday due to the threat of inclement weather. First pitch of a double header will be at 4:05 CT.
Game 2 & 3 Update: Tigers lost first game of the double header 4-3 in 10 innings. However, Auburn WON The Series by defeating the Pigs 7-2 in the second game. War Eagle!