Auburn, Ala.--After opening the SEC schedule at home last weekend against the No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies, things don’t get much easier for Butch Thompson and the Auburn Tigers this weekend as they travel to Arkansas to face the #18 Razorbacks in the first road conference series of the year.
Currently 11-10 on the year and 1-2 in the league, Auburn will face an Arkansas team coming off a sweep at the hands of South Carolina a week ago. Still 15-6 on the season and still looking for its first SEC win, Arkansas is a very dangerous and quality team said Thompson.
“Another first for us, going on the road in the Southeastern Conference,” he said. “We’ve had our first road trip, our first road midweek, a home series against Texas A&M last weekend, and this will be our first road SEC series.
“I’m sure Arkansas will be ready to go like always. They are well coached and it’s a great atmosphere. Like I have always said, we’re more concerned about who we are and what we’re doing. Hopefully we can keep playing great offense. I think we take confidence in from that side.:
The key once again this weekend for Auburn will be the offense as the Tigers enter the series having scored 87 runs in their last eight games overall. That includes an 11-0 victory over Alabama State on Tuesday night when the Tigers pounded out a season-high 21 hits.
Leading the charge continues to be junior left fielder Josh Palacios. Currently hitting .433, one point ahead of teammate Anfernee Grier, Palacios is 24-40 in the last nine games with nine RBI, 16 runs scored and eight extra-base hits. During that span he has raised his batting average 133 points.
On the mound Auburn will keep its rotation the same for the weekend with senior Justin Camp (1-1, 4.94 ERA) getting the call on Friday, freshman Casey Mize (1-1, 3.38) on Saturday and junior Cole Lipscomb (1-2, 6.33) on Sunday. With Andrew Mitchell (3-0, 3.81) available out of the bullpen this weekend after missing his Tuesday start and others such as Gabe Klobosits (1-1, 5.09) and Izaac Yarbrough (2-0, 4.00) giving the Tigers a quality outing recently, Thompson said this week is a big one for the pitching staff.
“It’s a great opportunity as a head coach right now to get with our pitching staff,” Thompson said. “We’ve been working hard all week to get back out there and pitch good. Tuesday started something positive for us with a two-hit shutout against historically a very offensive Alabama State team.
Arkansas will counter with junior RHP Dominic Taccolini (3-1, 4.06) on Friday with sophomore Keaton McKinney (0-0, 6.30) on the mound for Saturday’s game. The Razorbacks are listed as TBA for Sunday.
A team that has hit a league leading 25 home runs, Arkansas is led at the plate by Carson Shaddy. The 5-11, 185 sophomore is batting .387 with five home runs and 23 RBI and is one of seven players with at least two home runs. As a team the Razorbacks are batting .288 overall but only hit .248 and scored 14 total runs in last week’s sweep at South Carolina.
Game times for the series are scheduled for 6:35 p.m. on Friday, 6:05 p.m. on Saturday and 1:05 p.m. on Sunday. All games are available online on SEC Network +.
“This is an opportunity to go out and probably this weekend will be completely different than last weekend,” Thompson said. “This will be a series we’re excited about. We’ve got to make a move at some point but there’s a long way to go with nine SEC weekends. I would like for us to get in that column and win a series, and that’s our intention heading to Fayetteville this weekend.”