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Reeling Tigers take on Kentucky

Auburn’s baseball team is on the road and on the ropes.

Andrew Morris will get his second Friday night start

A season that seemed so promising two weeks ago has been knocked off course by six straight Southeastern Conference losses and eight losses in nine games overall.

Today at 5:30 p.m. CDT, the Tigers (15-14, 2-7) open a three-game series at Kentucky (16-14, 2-7). If the slide continues, the road back into contention will become very long indeed.

Third-year coach John Pawlowski admits he didn’t see the downturn coming.

“I told our team it’s not necessarily about who we are playing,” Pawlowski said. “We have to find a way to improve in a lot of areas.”

The first order of business will be to find an answer to what’s happening with two outs. In the past eight games, Auburn has allowed an astounding 48 two-out runs. In those games, the Tigers have scored just 31 runs overall.

“We’ve studied it and looked at it and tried to break the numbers down,” Pawlowski said. “The numbers are what they are. From a pitching standpoint, it’s about finishing innings and having the ability to get the final out whether you make a big pitch or big play.

“Offensively, we’ve talked to those guys about continuing to fight even with two outs. With two outs we’ve got to have quality at-bats. We’ve talked a lot about it and put a lot of emphasis on it trying to improve in that area as much as we can. “

Pawlowski has adjusted his pitching rotation for the weekend. Junior Andrew Morris will get his second consecutive Friday night start, but ace Derek Varnadore will move from Sunday to Saturday. Pawlowski has not announced a starter for Sunday, though it is likely to be junior Jon Luke Jacobs.

Kentucky will start junior right-hander Alex Meyer (3-4, 3.10) on Friday, freshman left-hander Corey Littrell (4-1, 4.82) on Saturday and sophomore left-hander Taylor Rogers (2-3, 5.05) on Sunday.

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