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Monday, Oct 2, 2023 | Latest Print Edition

Auburn looks to continue second-half surge against Missouri

Auburn’s turnaround in the second half of SEC play is still the talk of the town as Butch Thompson’s team now holds the best record in league play since the halfway point, 9-3, following a series sweep of Ole Miss last weekend. 

In the final weekend of regular-season play before Auburn heads to Hoover, Alabama for the SEC Baseball Tournament, the Missouri Tigers will come down for the final series of the season in Plainsman Park.

The orange and blue Tigers have made history in their recent run of success. The squad’s five-game SEC winning streak marks the first by an Auburn team since 2011 and the last 12 SEC games mark the program's best 12-game stretch in conference play since 2018. 

The question will be if Auburn can keep the good times going against a Missouri program that they are 7-13 against historically and have only won one series against. The gold and black Tigers are no stranger to recent success either. Missouri has won six of its last seven and is coming off a sweep against Georgia last weekend. 

The Auburn pitching staff has been an important part of the late-season success with a 3.29 ERA the last two weekends combined and a 4.71 ERA the last five weeks of SEC play, ranking third in the conference. Butch Thompson will go with the regular pitching lineup to start the series with Chase Allsup on Thursday and Tommy Vail on Friday. Vail has been striking on all cylinders leading the SEC with a 1.26 ERA and four earned runs in 28.2 innings pitched during the last five weekends of conference play. 

As for the Saturday starter, Christian Herberholz left Saturday’s game against Ole Miss after two innings pitched and after receiving an MRI this week will not be able to play this weekend, leaving the Saturday starter “TBD” at the moment. He will be out for two weeks and is hopeful to return for the NCAA regional. 

To challenge that pitching, Missouri is hitting a .272 average as a team and has hit 27 home runs and tallied an average of 11.3 runs per game in seven May contests. Missouri has out-hit the competition in 30 of its 50 games, going 26-4 in those contests. 

The gold and black Tigers are led by fifth-year infielder Luke Mann, who is hitting .326 with 20 home runs and 51 RBI. Junior outfielder Ross Lovich is the reigning SEC Co-Player of the Week after hitting for the cycle last week against Georgia. 

Auburn’s offense is coming off a hot weekend for the bats, leading the SEC with a .400 average and 37 runs on 50 hits last weekend. The team's 50 hits were the most in an SEC series since also recording 50 hits at Kentucky in 1997. All nine players collected at least three hits and scored at least two runs at Ole Miss last weekend. 

After its first flight two weekends ago during the LSU series, the War Eagle will fly for the second time at Plainsman Park prior to Friday's game at approximately 5:57 p.m. First pitches are scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m. CST, Friday at 6 p.m. CST and Saturday at 2 p.m. CST. The series between the two Tigers can be found on the SEC Network+ all weekend long.

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