April 10, 2014
Auburn coach Sunny Golloway says Tigers face a major challenge at Alabama this weekend (Zach Bland photo)
| Probable Starting Pitchers
|| RHP Dillon Ortman (5-2, 2.11) vs. RHP Spencer Turnbull (4-1, 1.58)
|| RHP Keegan Thompson (5-1, 1.71) vs. LHP Justin Kamplain (2-2, 4.06)
|| LHP Michael O'Neal (2-3, 3.92) vs. LHP Jon Keller (5-1, 1.52)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - With a trip to play first-place Alabama in Tuscaloosa looming, Sunny Golloway's first Auburn baseball team is struggling to recapture the momentum of just two weeks ago.
The Tigers (20-14, 5-7) won their first two SEC series, beating Texas A&M at home and Tennessee on the road. But they lost to last-place Missouri at home and were swept at Ole Miss. And as they arrive at the halfway point of the SEC season, the promise of March has turned into the urgency of April.
Alabama (22-10, 8-4) is the surprise leader in the West Division and overall after sweeping Ole Miss at home and winning two of three from Texas A&M on the road.
Auburn broke a four-game losing streak Tuesday night with a 6-0 win over Troy. To stay in serious contention for postseason play, Auburn needs two wins at Alabama. Two wins would mean the a 7-8 SEC record at the halfway point.
Golloway said he feels badly for Auburn's seniors that the season has taken a downward turn. But he said all is not lost.
"I built their hopes up," Golloway said. "I sold them a bill of what is going to happen. When it doesn't happen, sometimes it's easy to lose that edge. We are just trying to get it back."
Getting it back in Tuscaloosa, Golloway said, will be a serious challenge.
"With the last weekend, we have to bounce back," Golloway said. "It's not going to be easy. They have a really good club. They are very, very physical. It's going to be a tough test for us, but aren't they every weekend?"
Auburn is third in the Southeastern Conference in team batting average at .292 going into the weekend and second in on-base percentage at .380. Yet, Auburn is 12th in runs scored with 154. Auburn has tried to steal bases 82 times in 34 games and has been caught 26 times.
Sophomore Jordan Ebert leads the Tigers and the SEC with a .388 batting average. Damek Tomscha is close behind at .373, third best in the SEC.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: