Auburn (6-4) will face Big 10 favorite Purdue (5-1) on Friday at 5 p.m.. The Tigers will play Charleston Southern (4-4) on Saturday and Southern Miss (6-3) on Sunday as the four teams play a round-robin format over the weekend.
Winners of three consecutive games after winning the final game on the road at Arizona and beating Alabama State twice this week, Auburn is hoping to continue its momentum this weekend. Coach John Pawlowski said his team is looking forward to the opportunity to face three good teams in front of the home crowd.
"It's a great weekend," Pawlowski said. "If you're a college baseball fan then you want to come out. We've got two games a day and three quality teams coming in here with Purdue, Charleston Southern and Southern Miss. It will be a challenge for us, no doubt about it. That's the exciting thing. We're at home and we're looking forward to getting our fans out here."
Coach John Pawlowski
Struggling with consistency this season, Auburn's fast-break style of offense has paid dividends so far as the Tigers are hitting .328 and averaging 7.3 runs per contest. With 37 stolen bases in 10 games Auburn is just seven shy of last season's total and well on the way to running past the school record of 116 set in 1974.
A key to the offense recently has been putting sophomore Jay Gonzalez and senior Creede Simpson at the top of the lineup. Both have been swinging a hot bat and have keyed the Tigers to three consecutive wins since the move.
"Jay's on base percentage is up there," Pawlowski said. "He continues to find ways to get on base. He goes deep into the count and gave us another dimension at the top of the order. The thing is we have to continue to find ways to get those guys on base because they can run and add another dimension to our game offensively."
If the Tigers can continue to improve and make some noise in 2012 one of the key moments may prove to be last Saturday's win over No. 8 Arizona in the third game of the road trip. Losing the first two handily, Auburn responded with a comfortable win behind the pitching of freshman Daniel Koger and Simpson said it was big for them to see what it takes to get to that level.
"We knew they were a very upscale team coming in there," Simpson said. "We wanted to win all three, or at least take the series, but we had our backs against the wall. We knew we had to at least come out of there with one game. The coaches prepared us well for the game. It felt good to come out of there with at least one win after what happened the first two games. It was a good win for our team."
The Tigers will have the opportunity to improve their stock this weekend with three strong opponents on deck beginning with the Purdue Boilermakers and ending on Sunday against a Southern Miss team that blew out Alabama 14-2 this week. Simpson said he and the team are looking forward to the challenge and hoping to staying hot.
"All three of those teams coming in are really good," Simpson said. "We have our work cut out for us. They are all going to be throwing good arms against us. It's a challenge. Hopefully, we can come out of here with some wins."
The start times for Friday's baseball games at the Auburn Tournament at Plainsman Park have been moved up by an hour due to the threat of bad weather expected in the Auburn area during the evening hours. The Auburn vs. Purdue game originally set for 6 p.m. has been moved to a 5 p.m. start while the Charleston Southern vs. Southern Miss game is now a 1 p.m. start.
The rest of the tournament schedule remains the same with Southern Miss facing Purdue at noon on Saturday and Auburn facing Charleston Southern at 4 p.m. Sunday's games are Purdue vs. Charleston Southern at 11 a.m. and Auburn vs. Southern Miss at 3 p.m.
Pitching matchups for the weekend:
Charleston Southern vs. Southern Miss, 2 p.m.
RHP Ryan Gunther (0-2, 2.61) vs. RHP Jay Myrick (0-0, 0.00)
Purdue at Auburn, 6 p.m.
RHP Joe Haase (1-0, 5.23) vs. RHP Derek Varnadore (1-1, 5.54)
Southern Miss vs. Purdue, noon
LHP Jake Drehoff (2-0, 1.50) vs. RHP Lance Breedlove (1-1, 0.75)
Charleston Southern at Auburn, 4 p.m.
LHP Charlie McCready (1-1, 1.80) vs. TBA
Purdue vs. Charleston Southern, 11 a.m.
LHP Calvin Gunter (0-0, 7.56) vs. RHP Patrick Dolan (1-0, 5.19)
Southern Miss at Auburn, 3 p.m.
RHP Boomer Scarborough (1-0, 1.00) vs. LHP Daniel Koger (1-0, 0.00)