April 2, 2007
AUBURN, Ala. - The Auburn baseball team will close out its current four-game home stand on Tuesday night at 6pm CT when the South Alabama Jaguars come to Plainsman Park.
Auburn enters the game 20-11 overall and has gone an impressive 19-3 in non-conference action this season. South Alabama enters the game 16-12 and will be looking for revenge after falling to the Tigers, 20-5, on Feb. 25 in Mobile in a game in which Auburn belted four home runs.
Tuesday is Youth Night and all fans 17-and-under get in free with a cap and glove.
National Rankings: RV in ESPN
Tues: Jr. RHP Kevin Nabors (0-0, 11.42) vs. Fr. RHP Austin Hubbard (0-0, 6.75)
Radio: WMXA-FM (96.7)
Announcers: Rod Bramblett & Andy Burcham
Live Stats: auburntigers.com
Live Streaming: auburntigers.com
Tigers Face Jags For 2nd Time In `07
The Tigers are in their third season under head coach Tom Slater (76-71 at AU/126-171 overall) ... Auburn is 20-11, 1-8 SEC on the season ... Auburn is 16-8 at home ... The Tigers are hitting .301 at home and the pitching staff has a 3.76 ERA at Plainsman Park ... The Tigers are 19-3 in non-conference play with four non-conference games remaining ... AU is hitting non-SEC foes at a .314 clip while the pitching staff has a 3.22 ERA ... Sr. IF Philip Stringer became the ninth different Tiger to hit a homer this season on Saturday ... So. OF Mike Bianucci has 12 homers in 40 non-conference games and is a career .383 hitter against non-SEC foes ... Fr. RHP Austin Hubbard will be making the third start of his career ... Auburn's true freshmen are hitting .308 (99-for-321) ... Auburn is currently 57-71 in stolen bases after attempting just 55 in all of '06 ... Sr. OF Bruce Edwards is in sole posession of 9th on Auburn's career steals list with 46 ... Jr. C/IF Josh Donalson has started 117 consecutive games for the Tigers (53-C, 64-3B) ... Auburn had seven former players on opening day MLB Rosters.
Scouting The Jaguars
South Alabama heads north to Auburn for the second game between the two teams this season and enter Tuesday's contest with a 16-12 record. Since they met on Feb. 25 in Mobile, South Alabama has gone 12-8 while Auburn has gone 10-10.
South Alabama is hitting .298 as a team and is led by David Doss' .385 average and Jeff Cunningham's 11 home runs and .711 slugging percentage.
On the mound the Jags carry a 5.66 ERA but are averaging almost eight strikeouts per game. Tuesday's starter, Kevin Nabors, has thrown 8.2 innings this year, allowing 17 runs on 17 hits and seven walks, including three doubles and four home runs.
The Auburn-USA Series
South Alabama leads the all-time series with Auburn, 41-19, but it has been the Tigers that have held the advantage in the series of late. Since the 1995 season Auburn is 10-5 against the Jaguars and is 3-1 under coach Tom Slater, with the only loss coming in his first game against USA. When the games have been played in Auburn, USA owns a 17-9 advantage.
The Last Time They Met...
Auburn went on a scoring tear in Mobile, pounding out 20 runs on 16 hits. The big blow came in the first as Eric Skinner smashed a grand-slam in Auburn's seven-run opening frame. Mike Bianucci, Ryan Jenkins and Ross Smith also belted homers for the Tigers with Bianucci ending the game 4-for-5 with four RBI and three runs scored, finishing a double short of the cycle.
Hubbard To Make 3rd Start In `07
Fr. RHP Austin Hubbard will be making the third start of his career on Tuesday vs. South Alabama. In two starts this season, Hubbard is 0-0 with an 11.81 ERA, having started Auburn's 10-5 win over Hofstra and its 10-8, comeback win over VMI. In his two starts Hubbard has lasted a combined 5.1 innings, allowing seven earned runs.
Thompson Two-fer Last Week
Fr. RHP Taylor Thompson had a very good last week for Auburn, winning at Mercer on Tuesday night before getting his first career SEC start on Sunday and helping the Tigers to a win over No. 13 Ole Miss. In his two starts, Thompson allowed just one run in each game while pitching a combined 10.1 innings, striking out four. Thompson currently is third on the the Tiger staff with 29 strikeouts and has twice K'd seven or more batters.
Playing Them Close
Auburn has played 11 one-or-two-run ball games this year and is 4-4 in one-run games and 2-1 in two-run games. Since taking over the reigns of the baseball program, Tom Slater has guided the Tigers to a 23-18 record in one-run games and a 8-10 record in two-run contests.
Tigers In the Midweeks
Auburn has gone 5-2 in midweek games this season and is hitting .267 in those games while the pitching staff has a 3.14 ERA. Auburn's bullpen has gone 2-2 in the seven midweeks while Taylor Thompson has earned the three wins out of the starters role. As a team, the pitching staff has struckout 60 while issuing just 26 walks while the offense has managed five home runs (two each by Jr. C/IF Josh Donaldson and So. OF Mike Bianucci and one by So. Util. Luke Greinke) and is 16-for-18 in stolen bases, with Fr. IF Robert Brooks swiping a team-best six in six attempts.
Stringer Makes It Nine
Sr. IF Philip Stringer's home run off the batter's eye in dead center on Saturday brought the total to nine Tigers that have hit home runs this season. Jr. C/IF Josh Donaldson and So. OF Mike Bianucci have both smacked eight homers this year while So. C Ryan Jenkins, So. Util. Luke Greinke, Fr. IF Joseph Sanders, Fr. IF Eric Skinner, Fr. C Dustin Spruill and Fr. OF Ross Smith each have one.
Auburn In The Non-Conference
Auburn is 19-3 in non-conference games this season for a .864 winning percentage. Auburn's highest winning percentage in non-conference games over the past 10 years came in 1997 when AU finished its non-SEC slate with a 33-5 mark for an .868 winning percentage. With four regular-season non-conference games left, AU's winning percentage could climb to as high as .885 or dip to as low as .731.
Taking out the postseason, Auburn's best non-conference mark in the last 10 years also came in `97 when AU went 26-0 in non-SEC games.
Bullpen Ridding Itself Of BBs
Despite the team going just 2-2 over the last week the Auburn bullpen seems to be getting back to its early season form of not issuing free passes. In the last four games the Auburn bullpen has thrown 14.0 innings and has issued just one walk after issuing 24 walks in the previous 23.0 innings as AU went 0-6.
On the mound the three freshman hurlers that have seen action (RHPs Austin Hubbard, Scott Shuman and Taylor Thompson) have a combined 3.26 ERA, having thrown a combined 58 innings while allowing 21 earned runs and striking out 53. The three are a combined 7-1 with three saves.
Auburn's true freshmen are hitting a collective .308 (99-for-321), led by IF/OF Joseph Sanders' .339 mark in 23 contests. Sanders, OF Ross Smith and C Dustin Spruill each have hit one homer this season and add in IF Robert Brooks and you have 29 of the team's 89 extra-base hits and 48 of the team's 200 RBI.
Donaldson Behind The Dish
Jr. C/IF Josh Donaldson has had a been a key cog in Auburn's offense and defense the last two seasons both catching and playing third base for the Tigers. This season Donaldson is hitting .406 when he is the starting catcher but just .288 when he starts at the hot corner while last year he hit .290 when starting behind the plate and .256 at third. Fellow catchers Fr. Dustin Spruill and So. Ryan Jenkins are hitting a combined .333 when either is the starting catcher while Fr. Joseph Sanders and Sr. Philip Stringer are hitting a combined .262 as the starting third baseman. The team is 11-6 when Donaldson starts behind the plate and 9-5 when he starts at third.
Butts Flourishing In Role
Jr. RHP Brett Butts has been brilliant in his role of middle reliever for the Tigers this season, owning a 2.18 ERA, good enough for sixth in the SEC, striking out 33 while issuing just eight walks, which is tied for seventh in the SEC. His 23 hits allowed and eight runs allowed are the lowest in the league while his .202 opponent batting average is sixth in the conference.
In 17 career appearances out of the bullpen, Butts is 1-0 with two saves and a 2.23 ERA. By comparison, he went 3-6 with a 6.91 ERA in 13 starts in 2006.