Tigers Looking To Turn Things Around Vs. Cats

Auburn will look to get back on the winning track this weekend against the Kentucky Wildcats.

Auburn, Ala.--Dropping six SEC games in a row and eight of its last nine games overall, the Auburn Tigers (15-14, 2-7) travel to Lexington to face the Kentucky Wildcats (16-14, 2-7) in a huge series for both teams as they get near the halfway point of the Southeastern Conference schedule.

After being swept at home last weekend by Vanderbilt and losing big at Troy Tuesday night, coach John Pawlowski said it doesn't get much more important than this weekend for his club.

"It's obviously a big weekend for us for a lot of reasons," Pawlowski said. "We need to get back on track. It's going to be another challenge at Kentucky. They've got very good arms. I told our team it's not necessarily who we're playing, we've got to find a way to just improve in several areas."

The biggest area that needs improvement is with two outs, both offensively and defensively. In the last eight games (1-7) the Tigers have allowed an incredible 48 runs with two outs to the opposition with 16 of those coming with two outs and nobody on. Auburn has eight two-out RBI during the stretch with the opponents an absurd 46.

In those same eight games Auburn has scored a total of just 36 runs. To delve even deeper Auburn is hitting .202 with two outs during that stretch while opponents are hitting a robust .391. Overall Auburn is hitting .262 while MSU, Troy and Vanderbilt are hitting a combined .353. Pawlowski said it's something they just have to work through and it begins and ends on the mound.

"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 play.

"It's hard to work on trying to get the third out. It's one of those things that starts with making a quality pitch. We've got to make some defensive plays.

"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."

It will again be a different look on the mound for the Tigers as junior RHP Andrew Morris (1-2, 5.03 ERA) will get the start on Friday and fellow junior RHP Derek Varnadore (3-1, 3.38) on Saturday instead of his normal Sunday spot. The Tigers are listed as TBA for the final game of the series with Jon Luke Jacobs a likely candidate after two solid outings the last two weeks.

Kentucky will start junior RHP Alex Meyer (3-4, 3.10) on Friday, freshman LHP Corey Littreell (4-1, 4.82) on Saturday and sophomore LHP Taylor Rogers (2-3, 5.05) for the final game on Sunday. Game times for the weekend series are 5:30 p.m. CT on both Friday and Saturday with a noon start on Sunday. Sunday's game can be seen live on CSS.

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