March 21, 2014
Auburn coach Sunny Golloway says he likes the way his team matches up with Tennessee (Zach Bland photo)
By Phillip Marshall
Two of the hotter baseball teams in the Southeastern Conference will clash when Auburn plays at Tennessee tonight in the first game of a three-game series.
Game time is 5 p.m. CDT.
Auburn (15-7 overall, 2-1 in the SEC) has won nine of its last 10. No. 14 Tennessee (18-2, 2-1) has won eight of its last 10. Tennessee won two of three at Missouri last weekend in its first SEC series. Auburn won two of three from Texas A&M at home.
First-year Auburn coach still isn’t sure what to make of the Vols.
“Their RPI is really high because they’ve won,” Golloway said. “Their really good road wins are at Missouri in the SEC and at Arizona State. It doesn’t look like the records are real good, so it is hard for me to gauge really what we are going into.
“We just need to approach it like they are going to be top of the chart with one of the best records in the SEC. Let’s go get it. I feel good about matching up.”
Auburn was last at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in the final regular-season series of 2011. The Tigers needed only to win two from the Vols, headed nowhere, to lock up the West Division championship and assure themselves of an NCAA regional bid. But they gave up two runs in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday to lose the game 5-4 and the series two games to one. They went two-and-out in the SEC Tournament to end their season.
Dillon Ortman was a freshman reliever on that team and gave up a walkoff single to Andrew Toles, the only batter he faced. Tonight, Ortman (4-1, 1.83) will be Auburn’s starter against senior Tennessee right-hander Nick Williams (3-1, 1.48).
“We have a lot of veterans and a lot of older guys that have been around the block,” Ortman said. “We have been to Tennessee before.”
After beating Texas A&M on Friday and Saturday last week, the Tigers had a seven-game win streak on Sunday. They rebounded to crush overmatched Coppin State 10-0 on Tuesday and 13-2 on Wednesday.
Golloway said he expects this weekend to tell him just how far his first Auburn team has come.
“I was asked earlier in the week by some of the national writers - as we start to get a little bit of consideration – if we deserve to be ranked,” Golloway said. “I told them that I really don’t think that we do yet that I thought the Tennessee series would tell an awful lot about it.”
Saturday’s 3 p.m. game will feature two of the hottest freshman pitchers in the nation. Keegan Thompson (4-0, 0.69) will get the start for Auburn and Hunter Martin (2-0, 0.73) for Tennessee. In Sunday’s 1 p.m. game, sophomore Auburn right-hander Justin Camp (1-0, 2.90) will start against sophomore Tennessee right-hander Andrew Lee (2-0, 3.46).
Hot-hitting senior Damek Tomscha leads Auburn in virtually every hitting category with a .414 batting average, five home runs and 18 RBI. Jordan Ebert is hitting .365 with 11 RBI, Ryan Tella .343 with eight RBI and Dan Glevenyak .306 with one home run and six RBI.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: