Winning a series from Ole Miss was big. Using big innings to win mid-week games from Jacksonville State and Samford was fun.
Garrett Cooper takes a 12-game hitting streak to Florida
But now Auburn’s baseball team faces serious business. With two series remaining, the situation for the Tigers is simple: Win or else.
Auburn (26-19, 9-15) opens a three-game weekend series at Florida (27-23, 12-12) tonight at 6. It plays the final series of the regular season against Arkansas next Thursday through Saturday. And if there is to be any realistic hope of playing in an NCAA regional, Auburn must win five of those six games. Four wins might get the Tigers in the conversation, but probably nothing more.
John Pawlowski, nearing the end of his fifth Auburn season and facing shaky job security, seldom talks about regionals. He talks more about getting into the 12-team SEC Tournament, and the Tigers aren’t even assured of that just yet.
“We are looking forward to getting back into SEC play and playing a very talented Florida team,” Pawlowski said. “With six conference games left, every game, every series certainly has a big impact here down the home stretch.”
After scoring 12 runs in the eighth inning of a 12-8 win over Jacksonville State and six runs in the sixth inning of a 9-3 over Samford, the Tigers will take a four-game winning streak into tonight’s game against the Gators.
“Florida is very talented, not only on the field but on the mound,” Pawlowski said. “Right now, our confidence level is as high offensively as it’s been all year. I thought we did some good things against Ole Miss, had some good approaches. We’re going to have to have some good approaches against Florida.”
Before beating Ole Miss 8-5 and 5-4 in the final two games of last weekend’s series, the Tigers had scored one or fewer runs in five of their previous six games. They’ve scored 34 runs in their four-game winning streak.
“You go through peaks and valleys over the course of the season,” Pawlowski said. “I think the players are better for that and understand they have to keep working every day, because it can turn very quickly.”
Left-hander Conner Kendrick (3-3, 2.34) will start for Auburn tonight against right-hander Jonathan Crawford (3-5, 4.00). Left-hander Michael O’Neal (8-3, 2.70) will start against left-hander Danny Young (3-4, 3.89) on Saturday. Neither team has named a starter for Sunday’s game.
Auburn first baseman Garrett Cooper will take a 12-game hitting streak into tonight’s game.