And nothing other than a loss that costs a national championship hurts Alabama more than going up against in-state rival Auburn with less than its best. The Crimson Tide’s baseball series that begins at 6 p.m. CDT today (Friday) in Auburn doesn’t have a good feel.
The Crimson Tide was picked to finish second in the Southeastern Conference Western Division prior to the season. With the season winding down, it is going to take some heroics to avoid one of the two last place teams in the league – the teams that don’t get invited to the SEC Tournament.
Bama was swept at home (“home” this year being the Hoover Met as renovation of Sewell-Thomas Field is underway) last weekend by No. 23 Arkansas and enters the Auburn series at only 8-15 in league play, barely above .500 at 25-24 overall. The Tigers are coming off a nice series win on the road at South Carolina, which evened Auburn’s SEC record at 12-12. Auburn is 32-17 overall and ranked 24th in the nation.
Following today’s game, the teams will play again at 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. All three games will be televised on the SEC Network+
Statistically, there is not too much difference in the teams. Bama hits .278, Auburn .282. The Tide averages 5.4 runs and 9.7 hits per game, the Tigers 5.1 and 9.2. Alabama has a few more doubles (93-89), triples (17-14), and home runs (23-16). The Tide has been successful on 51-73 in stolen bases, the Tigers 43-72. Auburn pitchers have a 3.27 earned run average, while Bama hurlers are at 4.12. Bama fields at .975 with 48 errors and 48 double plays, Auburn at .976 with 44 errors, 35 twin killings.
Alabama will start senior left-handed pitcher Taylor Guilbeau (2-5 with a 3.82 earned run average) in the first game. He’ll be opposed by Auburn’s redshirt sophomore right-hander Cole Lipscomb (6.2, 2.44). On Saturday it will be Tide freshman righty Jake Walters (4-3, 2.45) against Auburn senior right-hander Rocky McCord (5-3, 3.34). Sunday starters are soph right-hander Geoffrey Bramblett (6-3, 4.15) for Alabama and junior right-hander Dalton Rentz (3-1, 2.27) for Auburn.
Alabama has a 152-127 advantage in the all-time series against Auburn, including Tide wins in six of the last 10 meetings. Auburn has the advantage when the two teams are on the Plains, with the Tigers holding a 62-49 advantage, although Alabama came away with the series win when the two last played in Auburn in 2012.