March 1, 2007
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Coming off of one of the best opening months in school history, the No. 23 Auburn baseball team will put its eight-game winning streak on the line this weekend as No. 10 Arizona State visits Plainsman Park for a three-game series beginning at 6 pm CT on Friday.
The Tigers, 11-1 for the first time since 2004 and only the fourth time since 1993, will be hosting the Sun Devils (11-3) for the first time in school history after traveling to Tempe, Ariz., last season.
"If you look at our schedule we have been building towards this. With each successive weekend the competition has gotten a little bit better and this should be exciting," Auburn Head Coach Tom Slater said. "You have two top-25 clubs, one from the Pac 10 and one from the SEC. I know our guys are looking forward to it and hopefully we will have good crowds out here to watch us play."
Saturday's game will start at 2pm while Sunday's series finale is set for 1:30pm.
Friday night's game is "All-Auburn, All-Orange" and all fans in attendance are encouraged to wear orange to the game. Saturday is Logan Square Drink Hugger Day and the first 500 fans through the gate will receive a free drink hugger. Sunday is Coca-Cola Family Day where you can purchase a family pack for $30, which includes four tickets, four hot dogs and four drinks. There will also be a post-game autograph session following Sunday's game.
All tickets for the weekend series are $5.
2007 Record (11-1, 0-0 SEC)
National Rankings: 23 by NCBWA, 24 by CB, RV in SW
Fri: Jr. LHP Josh Satow (3-1, 2.03) vs. So. RHP Bryan Woodall (2-0, 0.00)
Sat: Jr. LHP Brian Flores (2-0, 1.61) vs. So. RHP Paul Burnside (3-0, 1.72)
Sun: TBA vs. So. LHP Evan Crawford (2-0, 3.00)
Live Stats: auburntigers.com
Radio: WMXA-FM (96.7) [Fri. & Sun.]
WKKR-FM (97.7) [Sat.]
Live Streaming: auburntigers.com (audio & video)
Announcers: Rod Bramblett, Andy Burcham & Nathan Ealy
Tigers Face 1st Ranked Team In `07
The Tigers are in their third season under head coach Tom Slater (67-61 at AU/117-161 overall) ... Auburn has won eight straight to get to 11-1, AU's best start since 2004 ... Auburn's eight-game winning streak is its longest under Slater ... The next longest streak is 10 straight in `04 (Feb. 22-Mar. 9) ... Auburn is facing its first ranked team in `07 ... Arizona State is the second top-10 team to visit Auburn in the pre-SEC season in the last two seasons (#6 Florida State - Feb. 10-11, 2006) ... Auburn's 111 runs scored on the season are the most by an AU squad 12 games into a season since 2000 (138 runs) ... So. OF Mike Bianucci has hit safely in 11 out of 12 games and has a five-game multi-hit streak going ... Bianucci's current eight-game hitting streak is the longest on the team and the longest of his career ... Bianucci is the reigning NCBWA National Hitter of the Week and SEC Player of the Week ... Auburn's Fr. and So. classes are hitting a combined .330 (87-for-263) ... Jr. C/IF Josh Donalson has started 98 consecutive games for the Tigers (42-C, 56-3B) ... Donaldson and Bianucci are slugging a combined .898 with 21 of their 40 hits going for extra bases ... Auburn's bullpen has a 1.61 ERA in 50.1 IP ... AU pitchers have four quality starts this season after earning seven in all of `06 ... So. RHP Justin Bristow has yet to allow a base-runner in three relief appearances (6.0 IP - 18 BF, 0 H, 4 K).
Scouting The Sun Devils
Arizona State heads to Auburn for the first time in school history and brings with them an 11-3 record and a gaudy .374 team batting average. The Sun Devils have five everyday players hitting .389-or-better (Petey Paramore - .511, Brett Wallace - .491, Matt Spencer - .447, Ike Davis - .390, Eric Sogard - .389) with Brett Wallace slugging a team-best .818 (5 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 20 RBI).
On the mound ASU has a team ERA of 3.35 with its four starters (Brian Flores - 1.61, Josh Satow - 2.03, Joe Hatasaki - 3.38, Joey Parigi - 4.05) combining for a 2.54 ERA in 71.0 out of 126.1 innings pitched this year. The other pitcher to see major innings has been Mike Leake, who is 3-0 with a save and a 0.78 ERA in 23.0 innings out of the bullpen.
ASU has won its last four games which includes a sweep of UAB last weekend in which it outscored the Blazers 36-10 and a 22-8 thrashing of in-state rival Arizona on Tuesday night.
Tom Slater vs. Pat Murphy
Tom Slater is 0-3 against Arizona State Head Coach Pat Murphy.
Weekend Starters Are 7-0
Auburn's weekend rotation of So. RHP Bryan Woodall, So. RHP Paul Burnside and So. LHP Evan Crawford all bring a perfect records into this weekend's series with Arizona State. Burnside is 3-0 while the other two are 2-0. Combined they have a 1.35 ERA and have struckout 39 while walking just 10 in 46.2 innings.
Bristow Perfect In Role
So. RHP Justin Bristow has been perfect since moving into the middle relief role, not allowing a base-runner in 6.0 innings (three appearances). Having faced the minimum 18 hitters, he has only allowed six balls out of the infield while striking out four.
Pitchers Dropping The Hammer
Auburn's team ERA of 2.51 is the lowest the team ERA has been 12 games into a season since the 2001 campaign when AU started the season 12-0 en route to a 37-21 mark and a berth in the Tallahassee Regional. That team finished with a team ERA of 4.05, the second-lowest end-of-season mark in the last 10 years. Slater's first team at Auburn, the 2005 squad, has had the lowest team ERA in the last 10 years at 3.89.
Top-25 Battles On The Plains
This weekend's contest between #10 Arizona State and #23 Auburn marks the first three-game series on the Plains between a ranked Auburn team and a ranked non-conference foe since March 3-7, 2004, when #9 Auburn swept #23 VCU.
Tigers Move Up To 23rd
After debuting in the polls at 29th in the Feb. 19th Collegiate Baseball poll, the Tigers have moved up to 23rd in the Feb. 26th NCBWA poll and are 24th in Collegiate Baseball's polling.
Tiger Rankings Under Slater
The ranking by Collegiate Baseball on Feb. 19th marked the earliest that Auburn has been ranked in a season under Tom Slater. The Tigers did not enter the rankings at all during the 2006 season but spent a total of four weeks in the top 25 in 2005, debuting in the March 28th poll.
Auburn Vs. The Pac 10
Auburn has played three teams out of the Pac 10, in Arizona, Arizona State and Stanford. Auburn is 1-7 all-time against the conference, with the first five contests coming in NCAA play and the other three in Tempe last year.
Never Count `Em Out
Five of Auburn's 11 wins this season have been come-from-behind wins, including its 4-1 win on Tuesday against Samford. Twice AU has overcome three-run defecits (vs. Hofstra on 2/11, trailed 5-2, won 10-5; vs. Jacksonville on 2/23, trailed 6-3, won 7-6).
Tigers Off The Bench
Tom Slater has found much success when going to his bench as the non-starters are hitting .438 in 16 at bats on the year. Bruce Edwards, Ryan Jenkins and Philip Stringer are all batting 1.000 when entering a game off the pine while Ben Jones and Ryan Stanley are both hitting .500. So far this season the bench has driven in seven runs and has scored eight.
Go Ahead, Try Me
So. OF Mike Bianucci has already thrown out two runners at the plate this season, gunning down a runner trying to score from second in the Samford game and throwing out a runner who had tagged up on third on a fly out in the 11th inning of the Lipscomb game.
Of Auburn's 100 RBI on the season, 41 of them have come with two outs in an inning. Fr. IF Eric Skinner leads the team with eight two-out RBI (half of his RBI for the season) while So. OF Mike Bianucci is next on the team with seven.
Tigers In The RPI
Auburn is fifth in WarrenNolan.com's RPI behind Kentucky, Davidson, Wright State and Lafayette. Auburn will play a total of five games against teams currently in the top 10 and 17 more agaisnt teams 11-50, making exactly half of Auburn's schedule against top 50 RPI teams.
Breaking Out The Big Bats
Auburn has scored double-digit runs in six out of 12 contests this season and has already tallied 111 runs on the year. Last year the Tigers hit double-digits just four times and it took them until April 12 to do it a sixth time in Slater's first year of 2005. The last time Auburn had scored as many as 111 runs in its first 12 games was in 2000, when AU pushed 138 runs across the plate in the first 12 games en route to a 41-20 record and a berth in the Atlanta Regional. That team finished the year with 558 runs, the third-highest total in AU history. At the current pace of 9.25 runs per game, AU would finish the regular season with 518 runs, which would rank fifth in Auburn history. The four seasons in which Auburn scored more than 518 runs all came while Slater was an assistant at Auburn.
R-Fr. IF Eric Skinner enters the weekend batting .227 but is third on the team with 16 RBI. He has recorded at least one hit and one RBI in nine out of 12 games this season and has recorded at least one sacrifice in seven games so far, starting all 12 games at short.