May 5, 2011
Sitting a game out of first place in the SEC West with three conference series remaining, the Auburn baseball team will play host to Georgia this weekend at Plainsman Park in a crucial set for both teams. Auburn enters the weekend 23-21, 9-12 SEC while Georgia is 24-21, 13-8 SEC.
Game times for the weekend are 6pm on Friday, 3pm on Saturday and 1pm on Sunday.
Coming off the finest outing of his career last week at No. 2 South Carolina, Jon Luke Jacobs (1-3, 3.32 ERA) gets the starting nod for Auburn on Friday and he will be followed by Jr. RHP Derek Varnadore (4-2, 3.92). Auburn has not determined its Sunday starter yet.
Georgia, which is four games out of first in the SEC East, will start So. LHP Alex Wood (4-5, 4.23) on Friday, Jr. RHP Michael Palazzone (8-1, 2.14) on Saturday and Jr. LHP Craig Gullickson (3-2, 6.14) on Sunday.
Friday night is Military Appreciation Night and fans with a military ID or DD214 will receive two-for-one admission while the first 500 fans will receive a camouflage jersey koozie from Nabisco/Winn-Dixie. There will also be post-game fireworks presented by Regions Bank, weather permitting.
Saturday is Beach Day at the Ballpark as fans will enjoy beach music, beach themed promotions and more.
Sunday is Family Day as fans can purchase four tickets, four hot dogs and four drinks for $30 (advance purchase only) and the first 500 fans will receive Team Trading Card Set No. 3 from Longhorn Steakhouse. After the game youth 12-and-under and run the bases presented by ALLKids.
Follow Auburn baseball on twitter at @AUTigerBaseball.
GEORGIA BULLDOGS (24-21, 13-8 SEC)
WEEKEND PITCHING ROTATIONS
Friday, May 6 (auburntigers.com audio & video / WKKR 97.7 FM)
Georgia at Auburn 6PM Plainsman Park
So. LHP Alex Wood (4-5, 4.23) vs. Jr. RHP Jon Luke Jacobs (1-3, 3.32)
Saturday, May 7 (auburntigers.com audio & video / WKKR 97.7 FM)
Georgia at Auburn 3PM Plainsman Park
Jr. RHP Michael Palazzone (8-1, 2.14) vs. Jr. RHP Derek Varnadore (4-2, 3.92)
Sunday, May 8 (auburntigers.com audio & video / WKKR 97.7 FM)
Georgia at Auburn 1PM Plainsman Park
Jr. LHP Craig Gullickson (3-2, 6.14) vs. TBA
ONE GAME OUT, NINE TO GO
Auburn stands in a tie for third in the SEC West, one game behind co-leaders Alabama and Arkansas ... Auburn holds the tie-break on Arkansas, Ole Miss and LSU in the West and Kentucky in the East ... Auburn's final three opponents (Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee) have a combined 28-35 SEC record (.444) while Alabama's final three opponents (LSU, Auburn, South Carolina) have a combined 33-30 SEC record (.524), Arkansas' (Florida, South Carolina, Ole Miss) a 43-20 mark (.683) and Ole Miss' (South Carolina, Mississippi State, Arkansas) a 35-28 mark (.556).
HOW WILL THE WEST BE WON?
Since the start of the two-division, 30-game conference schedule in 1996, no SEC Western Division champion has ever finished with less than 18 league wins, a fact that will almost certainly change this year as the best record the top two teams in the West could finish with is 19-11, needing nine wins to get there ... The fewest wins to ever claim an East division championship was 15 by South Carolina in 1999.
AUBURN VS. THE RANKED
In 19 games against Top 25 opponents, Auburn is 7-12 ... Auburn's 19 games against ranked teams is the second-most in the SEC, behind only Georgia's 27 (13-14).
NO WINS FOR STARTING
The last Auburn starting pitcher to pick up a win in an SEC game was Zach Blatt on Friday at LSU ... In SEC play, Auburn starters have just three of the team's nine wins with Will Irvin picking up the first SEC win of the season on Saturday against Arkansas and Derek Varnadore earning the Saturday win at Kentucky ... Auburn's starters are 3-8 and have a 6.65 ERA in 94 2/3 SEC innings while the bullpen is 6-4 with a 5.18 ERA in 90 1/3 innings.
CAPS AND GOWNS
Five current players and one former player have finished up their requirements and will graduate from Auburn on Monday. The five current players are Justin Hargett (exercise science), Jon Luke Jacobs (finance), Chris O'Neil (accounting & Spanish), Kevin Patterson (economics) and Sean Ray (commincations with a minor in psychology) ... Former pitcher Michael Hurst has also earned his degree.
PATTERSON VS. SEC PITCHING
Kevin Patterson crushed his team-leading eighth home run of the season and the 35th of his career in Saturday's loss to South Carolina ... In four years at Auburn, 20 of his 35 home runs have come against SEC pitching, having played in just 70 career SEC games, while he has just 15 home runs in non-conference games ... With 35 home runs, he now ranks in a four-way tie for eighth in career home runs at Auburn alongside Mike Bianucci (2006-08), Gabe Gross (1999-01) and Paul Foster (1983-86) ... His next home run would tie him with Trent Mummey (2008-10) and Kevin Chabot (1993-95) for sixth.
TRYING TO DEFEND THE WEST
Auburn will need to overtake two teams (Alabama and Arkansas) to win a second straight SEC West title ... The last time Auburn won back-to-back division titles was in 1964 and 1965 when Auburn was in the Eastern Division.
FEAST OR FAMINE VS. THE EAST
Auburn's series with Georgia will be its fourth against an SEC East foe and each of the previous three have ended in a sweep ... Auburn swept Kentucky, April 8-10, in Lexington but has been swept by Vanderbilt (April 1-3) and at South Carolina (April 29-May 1).
ONE MORE FOR THE BOOKS
Justin Hargett needs just one more single to enter the Auburn career record books ... A four-year starter at second base, he has 176 career singles and a career .306 batting average ... His next single will tie him with former All-American Todd Faulkner (1998-01) for 10th in school history.
CALDWELL NEARING A RECORD
A Johnny Bench Award Candidate as the nation's top catcher for the third time in his career, Tony Caldwell has thrown out 20 of 38 attempted base stealers (53 percent) and has picked a man off first while defensively he has only been charged two passed balls while starting 37 games behind the plate ... The 20 runners he has thrown out leads the SEC and is the fourth-most of the 42 catchers on the Bench Watch List ... His 53 percent caught stealing by is tops on that list ... With 56 career caught stealings by, he needs to throw out just one more to tie former All-American Casey Dunn (1996-99) for the school record with 57.
COMPARING `11 TO `10
Seven series into the 2011 SEC season, Auburn (9-12) stands three game back of where it was last year (12-9) at the same point ... Last year's team went 8-1 over the final stretch, sweeping Mississippi State in its eighth series of the year ... Last year the team was hitting .322 with an on base percentage of .398, having scored 173 runs while the pitching staff had a 5.14 ERA (SEC games only) ... This year the team is hitting .283 with a .365 on base percentage, scoring 122 runs scored while the pitching staff has a 5.94 ERA.
Auburn has been outscored by its opponents 260-257 thus far in 2011, winning games by an average margin of 3.91 runs per game (180-90) but losing games by an average margin of 4.65 runs per game (170-77) ... Auburn is 19-7 when scoring six-or-more runs this season but 4-14 when scoring five-or-fewer.
THE FAT LADY SINGS EARLY
Auburn is 15-6 when it scores first by just 8-15 when allowing its opponents to score first ... The club has also struggled to come from behind late as it is 2-15 when trailing after seven and 0-16 when trailing after eight ... Conversly, the team is 20-1 when leading after seven and 22-2 when leading after eight.
PAWLOWSKI NEARING 100
Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski needs just three more wins to reach 100 as the head coach at Auburn ... Should he reach it, he would become the fifth head coach in Auburn history to reach 100 ... The quickest to guide Auburn to 100 wins was Hal Baird, who did it in 160 games ... Pawlowski has coached 164 games so far at Auburn (97-67).
LAST TIME OUT
Auburn was swept in a three-game series at No. 2 South Carolina to drop its overall record to 23-21.
Auburn will play six consecutive games against in-state foes beginning on Tuesday at Samford ... That will be followed by a visit from Alabama State on Wednesday and a three-game series at home against Alabama before wrapping it up on the road at South Alabama.