Riley’s Ramblings: Pitching Key in Auburn’s First SEC Road Series of the Season

By March 22, 2018Talent Columns

 

Another successful series went into the books for Auburn Baseball over the weekend against Texas A&M, as the Tigers took two out of three in their SEC series opener. The series win propelled Auburn to a number six ranking in the latest Baseball America Top 25 Poll on Tuesday after being in the thirteenth spot last week and is ranked ninth in D1Baseball’s poll from Tuesday.

 

Despite a tough 6-4 loss at Georgia Tech on Tuesday night, the Tigers still hold an impressive 19-3 record (2-1 in conference) going into their first road conference series of the season at Kentucky. Kentucky is currently 15-6 on the season and just got swept by Arkansas in the first series in conference play. Despite getting swept, Baseball America has the talented Wildcats ranked eighth and D1Baseball has them ranked sixth in the country.

 

This weekend’s series will be a true road test for the Tigers in early conference play. No series is an easy one in the SEC, which is undoubtably the toughest conference in college baseball, especially on the road. Kentucky has been led offensively so far this season by their red hot infielder, Luke Heyer. Heyer is batting .365 with 27 RBI and leads the team with ten home runs. The Wildcats are defiantly a team led by their offense, as they have outscored their opponents 190 to 114 so far this season. The heart of Kentucky’s lineup led by Heyer, T.J. Collitt, and Tristian Pompey can be extremely lethal when they get hot. Kentucky has already hung up double digits in ten of the first sixteen games played this season.

 

That means that Auburn’s pitching staff and deep bullpen will be key to win the series. Casey Mize will put his perfect 5-0 record on the line on Friday afternoon. It did not seem possible for Mize to pitch better this season than last season, but so far he has looked virtually unhittable for the Tigers with a 1.96 ERA and 51 strikeouts. If Mize can turn in a good start in Lexington on Friday, it will give Auburn a huge push to win the series on the road.

 

Davis Daniel and Tanner Burns are both looking for bounce back starts after disappointing starts in the Texas A&M series. Neither of them pitched poorly enough to not give their team a chance to win, but a deep quality start from Daniel and Burns would give the Tigers a great chance to come home with a second conference win on the season.

 

Riley Hubbard

ESPN 106.7

rhubbard@aunetwork.com