AUBURN - As Auburn's baseball team took the field Monday to prepare for Tuesday's first-round Southeastern Conference Tournament game against Florida, coach John Pawlowski didn't know who he would play shortstop.
Auburn coach John Pawlowski uncertain about his lineup
Or second base.
Or first base
Or in the outfield.
The Tigers, besieged by injuries, had more questions than answers as they prepared to try to push their way into an NCAA Regional.
Shortstop Dan Glevenyak has a sore back. Right fielder Jay Gonzalez has a sprained wrist. Left fielder Cullen Wacker has a knee injury. First baseman Garrett Cooper has a strained oblique. Pitcher Zach Blatt has a sore arm.
The Tigers (30-26, 13-17), the No. 10 seed, and the Gators (40-16,18-12), the No. 3 seed, meet in the tournament's third game at 4:30 p.m. at Regions Park in Hoover.
In last Saturday's stirring 5-4 win over the No. 2 Gators, the Tigers staged a late-inning comeback with a makeshift lineup. They were without Wacker and Cooper, the second- and-third leading hitters, for the fifth consecutive SEC game. Mitchell Self replaced Glevenyak at shortstop. Patrick Savage replaced Cooper at first base. Bobby Andrews replaced Wacker in left field.
When Gonzalez was injured diving for a flyball, Creede Simpson moved from second base to right field and was replaced by Tanner Cimo. Cimo had a key hit in Auburn's rally from a 4-2 deficit and Simpson threw out the potential tying run at the plate to end the game.
"If there is chance they can play and help in some way, we will certainly take them," Pawlowski said. "If we go deep into this tournament, with some of these guys every day is another day to hopefully get healthy."
Senior Jon Luke Jacobs (5-3, 3.75), knocked out early in Auburn's 6-0 loss to the Gators on Friday, will get the start on the mound for the Tigers. Florida, already a lock to host a regional, will counter with junior right-hander Jonathon Crawford (4-2, 3.67), who has started 11 games this season but has not pitched since May 12.
Auburn's Sunday victory cost Florida a share of the SEC regular-season championship, but Gator coach Kevin O'Sullivan said that has been dealt with and put away.
“We fell a little bit short of an SEC regular season (title), but LSU earned it,” coach O’Sullivan said Monday.
The Gators, who played at Samford last Tuesday, have been on the road for a week.
“I think this road trip has been really good for us, to be honest with you," O'Sullivan said. "We’ve had some good practices, and I thought we played really well at Auburn. I know they’re anxious to make a really good run here in the postseason.”
Pawlowski said whoever is in the lineup Tuesday will be ready to give it their best.
"The 27 who are on there," Pawlowski said, "are going to go up there and compete."