After a 5-game losing streak in which the offense went dead silent, the Auburn bats broke out in two wins over an Oral Roberts team that just beat Mississippi State, and a 14-3 drumming over a ranked Georgia Tech team.
During their 3-game win streak the offense has scored 10, 18 and 14 runs respectively. That after scoring just 12 runs during a 5-game losing streak.
The offense comes just at the right time as the Tigers begin SEC play against third ranked Texas A&M this weekend at Plainsman Park.
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The Aggies have only lost one game all season and come in with a record of 17-1. They are first in the SEC with a team batting average of .336, and they’re averaging 8.3 runs per game. They’re third in the conference in pitching with an ERA of 2.12 and 184 strikeouts in 157 innings.
J.B. Moss leads the offense with a .406 average to along with 20 runs, 2 home runs and 15 RBIs, while Hunter Melton is hitting .364 with 19 runs, 4 home runs and 22 RBIs.
Tyler Ivey is 2-0 with 0.77 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 23.1 innings, but Jace Vines has been the Friday night starter with a 3-0 record and a 2.38 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 22.2 innings. Kyle Simonds is also 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 23 innings. Their closer, Ryan Hendrix, has 3 saves and 19 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched.
To be honest, if the Tigers come away with one win this weekend we’ll call it a success, and I believe that’s possible if the offense continues to swing the bats well.
Auburn is sixth in the league with a .313 team average, while averaging 8 runs a game. Outside of that 5-game stretch, the offense has been really good this year.
Anfernee Grier is quickly becoming one of the best draft prospects in the SEC as he’s leading the league with a .429 average. He also has shown some pop with 4 home runs, while scoring a team-high 27 runs and driving in 17 runs as well.
Niko Buentello has been just as good with a .397 average, 5 home runs and 29 RBIs. Jordan Ebert is hitting .385, Joshua Palacios is at .380 and Cody Nulph is at .379. Those numbers are staggering, and while they’ll likely take a dip once they start facing SEC pitching on a regular basis, this team still knows how to hit the baseball.
The pitching has been solid as they’re 10th in the league with a 3.39 ERA. Sunday starter Casey Mize has been fantastic with a 1.46 ERA in 24.2 innings with 18 strikeouts. Justin Camp has had some hiccups lately, but still holds a nice 3.46 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 26 innings.
Cole Lipscomb was Auburn’s best starter a year ago, but has had some ups-and-downs this season as he has a 4.00 ERA in 18 innings.
Coach Butch Thompson is still trying to figure out how to utilize his bullpen, which has been a problem for Auburn this season.
If the Auburn bats keep hitting the way it has the past three games, and the pitching is decent, Auburn has a chance to take 2-of-3 at home from Texas A&M, but as long as they get at least one and compete in all three I feel good about this team going forward in SEC play.
Weekend Schedule: Auburn (9-8) vs. Texas A&M (17-1)
Friday – 6:30 p.m. CT – Plainsman Park – SECN+ (L, 12-8)
Probable Starters: Jace Vines (3-0, 2.38 ERA, 25 Ks) vs. Justin Camp (1-1, 3.46 ERA, 22 Ks)
Saturday – 3 p.m. CT – Plainsman Park – SECN+ (W, 9-7)
Probable Starters: Tyler Ivey (2-0, 0.77 ERA, 33 Ks) vs. Casey Mize (1-1, 1.46 ERA, 18 Ks)
Sunday – 1 p.m. CT – Plainsman Park – SECN+
Probable Starters: Kyle Simonds (3-0, 1.17 ERA, 22 Ks) vs. Cole Lipscomb (1-1, 4.00, 15 Ks)