Auburn’s season will continue in Atlanta.
The Tigers have been selected for the NCAA Tournament and will travel to Atlanta for the four-team, double elimination regional. With six SEC teams hosting a regional, Auburn waited to hear if it would be selected for a regional at all on Monday, and if so, which of the 10 non-SEC hosted regionals it would go to. Auburn was the last team selected.
Two-seed Auburn has played 1-seed Georgia Tech twice in the regular season, with the Tigers dropping both games. Joining Auburn and Georgia Tech in the regional is 3-seed Coastal Carolina and 4-seed Florida A&M.
“We’re thankful to have our name mentioned,” said Auburn head coach Butch Thompson. “Georgia Tech, that will be a short ride up I-85 for use, and a really good Coastal Carolina team that won a national championship recently. The opportunity to still get to play at this time of the year is exciting for our ball club.”
Auburn (33-25) will face Coastal Carolina in the first round on Friday at 11 a.m. CST. This is the Tigers' third straight regional appearance. This is the first time they have a appeared in three straight regionals since they were selected for seven straight from 1997-2003.
Coastal Carolina won the Sun Belt Championship this past weekend and went 35-34-1 this season. The Chanticleers was the national champions in 2016.
Although Auburn finished with below .500 in conference play at 14-16, and went 1-2 in the SEC Tournament, Auburn was still a top-20 RPI team. The Tigers were 19th in the country in RPI and had the hardest strength of schedule in the country. They played 19 teams that were ranked in the top 25 in RPI.
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The biggest question for the Tigers going into the regional is their pitching staff. Auburn’s ace, Tanner Burns (4-3, 2.80 ERA), was unable to pitch during the SEC Tournament, but is expected to be available for the Atlanta Regional. Auburn’s second man in its starting rotation, Jack Owen (4-2, 2.29 ERA), is also back from injury, as well.
Auburn’s team ERA is 4.53, and its bullpen has been a continuous question all season. It remains to be seen if Auburn has the pitching depth to move on in the road to Omaha, and Thompson is aware of that.
“Kind of the challenge for us moving forward, is trying to create depth now getting into a regional atmosphere,” Thompson said. “So we have our work cut out. We have to pay a lot of attention in how we figure that out moving forward.”
Auburn has eight players on its roster that are from Georgia — Dawson Sweatt, Devin Warner, Ryan Bliss, Elliott Anderson, Rankin Woley, Peyton Glavine, Conor Davis, Steven Williams and Will Holland.
“It’s gonna be fun," Davis said. "I’m sure all the Georgia guys we have, all our families are gonna be there, stuff like that. And all of our friends from back home. But like I said, we’ll be so close to Auburn, it’s not that long of a tote for Auburn fans. So I’m pretty sure we’ll have a lot of fans there. It could be like another home game for us.”
Auburn goes intothe regional still reeling after the sudden and tragic loss of Rod Bramblett, the radio voice of the Auburn Tigers. Bramblett had been calling Auburn baseball games for 25 seasons with Andy Burcham. Bramblett and his wife Paula were killed in a car accident in Auburn on Saturday.
"It’s kind of bittersweet, because we’re going through a lot, our Auburn family, right now with a lot that’s happened in our community and our friends and our loved ones, they’ve been part of this journey and they’re not here with us today,” Thompson said.
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