No. 24 Baseball Welcomes Mississippi State For Three-Game Series
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
Derek Varnadore gets the Friday night start for Auburn

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
Derek Varnadore gets the Friday night start for Auburn
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

March 29, 2012

AUBURN, Ala. - The No. 24 Auburn baseball team will look to win a third straight SEC series to start conference play this weekend as it plays host to Mississippi State for a three-game series beginning Friday at 6pm. Game times for the rest of the series are 3pm on Saturday and 1pm on Sunday.

Auburn is playing its third of four straight series against a SEC Western Division to open up the conference season. Sitting at 15-10 overall and 4-2 in the league, Auburn is just a game behind No. 1 Florida (22-2), No. 2 Kentucky (24-1) and No. 3 Arkansas (22-3), which are all 5-1 in league play.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

FRIDAY, MARCH 30 • 6PM CT • PLAINSMAN PARK • WKKR-FM 97.7 • AUBURNTIGERS.COM LIVE VIDEO & AUDIO
RHP Chris Stratton (5-0, 2.21) vs. RHP Derek Varnadore (1-2, 4.23)

SATURDAY, MARCH 31 •3PM CT • PLAINSMAN PARK • WKKR-FM 97.7 • AUBURNTIGERS.COM LIVE VIDEO & AUDIO
LHP Nick Routt (1-3, 4.01) vs. LHP Will Kendall (3-0, 1.98)

SUNDAY, APRIL 1 • 1PM CT • PLAINSMAN PARK • WKKR-FM 97.7 • AUBURNTIGERS.COM LIVE VIDEO & AUDIO
RHP Kendall Graveman (2-0, 2.45) vs. LHP Daniel Koger (1-1, 1.67)

Auburn has been paced offensively by Co-SEC Player of the Week Ryan Tella, who enters the weekend among the SEC leaders in batting average (.415, second), slugging percentage (.533, 10th), on base percentage (.513, second), hits (39, tied-second), triples (2, tied-third), total bases (52, 10th), walks (18, tied-fifth) and steals (8, fourth).

Infielder Zach Alvord has also started to heat up at the plate, raising his average to .307 entering the weekend. He has driven in 11 of his 14 RBIs in the last seven games, in which he is hitting .358 with two doubles, two homers and four runs scored.

 

 

The Auburn pitching staff has had two solid weekends to open up SEC play, surrendering just eight runs over three games in a series win at No. 12 Ole Miss and then had a 1.29 ERA in the series win over No. 8 LSU.

Friday is Foursquare Friday where fans can check in on Foursquare for a chance to win a prize from Auburn baseball. It is also 80's Night and fans are encouraged to wear their favorite 80's attire and enjoy music from the 80's throughout the game. The first 1,000 fans into the game will also receive a pair of sunglasses courtesy of Goodwill.

Prior to Saturday's game the Auburn Diamond Dolls will host the annual Strike Out Cancer 5K Run/Walk to benefit the East Alabama Cancer Center. Registration and check-in begins at 8am and the race starts at 9am. Runners can use their race number to receive one free ticket to Saturday's game (based on availability).

Sunday is Family Day and fans can purchase three tickets and get one free (advance purchase only-promo code FAMILY).

GAME NOTES • GAMES 26-28 • MISSISSIPPI STATE (16-9, 2-4 SEC) AT #24 AUBURN (15-10, 4-2 SEC)

AUBURN ALL-TIME VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE
Mississippi State leads the series, 86-69, since 1949, when Auburn's complete records begin ... Auburn has won three straight and five of the last six series played between the two teams at Auburn ... The lone exception came in 2004, when Mississippi State won two-out of three ... Each of the last two series have been sweeps by the home team.

PITCHING VS MSU: Auburn's pitching staff has not found much success against Mississippi State in the past as Zach Blatt (0-1, 7.45), Jon Luke Jacobs (0-1, 10.80), Cory Luckie (1-0, 7.15), Dillon Ortman (0-0, 0.00), Slade Smith (0-0, 16.88), Derek Varnadore (0-1, 7.20) and Ethan Wallen (0-0, 0.00) have allowed a combined 43 runs (37 earned) on 64 hits and eight walks (1.79 WHIP) with 32 strike outs in 40 1/3 innings for an overall 1-3 mark with an 8.26 ERA.

AT THE PLATE: Of the 26 at bats against Mississippi State among the returners, none have come in a win as none of the current position players played in the 2010 series at Auburn.

BACK-TO-BACK SEC OPENING SERIES WINS
Auburn won its first two SEC series for the first time since 2003 and will try to win a third straight to open the conference slate for the first time since that same season ... The last time Auburn claimed three straight SEC series wins was last season when it swept Kentucky and then took two-of-three from No. 21 LSU and Ole Miss in consecutive weekends.

AUBURN VS THE SEC WEST
Auburn is playing its third straight series against a SEC Western Division team this weekend and plays its fourth straight next weekend at Alabama ... Since the start of the 2010 season Auburn has gone a combined 25-15 (.625) against the West (5-4 vs. Alabama, 4-2 vs. Arkansas, 6-3 vs. LSU, 7-3 vs. Ole Miss and 3-3 vs. Mississippi State) and has finished in the top two in the division each of the last two years.

ONE-RUN GAMES
Auburn has already played 10 one-run games after playing just 16 all of last year ... Auburn is 5-5 in those situations this season, including a 3-2 mark (out of six games) in SEC play ... Last year the team finished 6-10 in games decided by a run.

TELLA ME ABOUT IT
Ryan Tella enters the weekend among the SEC leaders in batting average (.415, second), slugging percentage (.553, 10th), on base percentage (.513, second), hits (39, tied-second), triples (2, tied-third), total bases (52, 10th), walks (18, tied-fifth) and steals (8, fourth).

ALVORD HEATING UP AT THE PLATE
Zach Alvord has started to heat up at the plate, raising his average to .307 entering the weekend ... He has driven in 11 of his 14 RBIs in the last seven games (3/17-27), in which he is hitting .385 (10-26) with two doubles, two homers and four runs scored ... Auburn is 5-2 over its last seven.

FIRST TO FOUR
Four has been the magic number of late for Auburn as the team has gone 12-5 when scoring four runs or more and 3-5 when it scores three-or-less ... Conversely, Auburn is 3-8 when opponents scored four-or-more and 12-2 when holding its opponents to three or fewer.

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Auburn Series Notes