Justin Camp (above) is a senior right-handed pitcher for Coach Butch Thompson's Tigers.
Auburn, Ala.-- Auburn seniors Jackson Burgreen, Justin Camp and Jordan Ebert know all about the importance of beating Alabama. Growing up in the state and hearing about the rivalry since they were old enough to walk, the trio is hoping to end a drought against the Crimson Tide with a series win this weekend in Tuscaloosa.
Looking for their first series win over Alabama since 2011 and the first in Tuscaloosa since 2004, the Tigers know just how big a successful weekend would be for them. That’s not only about the rivalry, but also because of the hunt for the SEC Tournament. Currently 20-24 overall and 7-11 in conference play and still with series left against highly-ranked Mississippi State and Vanderbilt teams, Auburn still has plenty to left to play for this weekend.
“It’s exciting,” Camp said. “Any time you get to play against them it’s exciting. Having already beaten them in the Capital City Classic (10-1) gives us more confidence, but just knowing it’s my last rodeo it means a lot. I think we’ve got to go into it looking at it as another series. If you try to look at it any more than that you put too much pressure on yourself. Myself, I’m just looking at it as another outing and a chance to get better.”
Coming off a series win Kentucky and winning two of the last three weekends, Auburn is hoping to build on that momentum against Alabama. Camp said despite the troubles this team has continued to battle and that’s something they can hang their hat on.
“I think it has helped a lot” Camp said of the wins over the Wildcats. “It has shown everybody that we haven’t given up. I think for our guys it has given them that little boost that ‘hey, we’re still in this.’ We have something to play for every day. You can tell in practice that everybody is working hard and just trying to get better.”
Not even on the travel roster two years ago when Auburn beat Alabama the first game and lost the final two of the series, Burgreen said for him this weekend would be part of a great senior season for him. Earning a spot in the regular rotation with the injury to Josh Palacios, Burgreen has become a solid contributor in his final season on the Plains.
Jackson Burgreen has taken a larger role for the Tigers in the second half of the season.
“This is the biggest series of the year so far,” Burgreen said. “Since I have been here we haven’t won a series against Alabama, which kind of stings a little bit. We don’t have any bragging rights, but everybody is playing well and have a lot of confidence going into this weekend.
“I’m a senior and this could be my last go-around with baseball,” he added. “Being an everyday player, we kind of wish P-Lo was back anyway, which would hinder my playing ability. I’m enjoying every little bit of it.”
Playing against Alabama for likely the last time, Ebert has been a big part of Auburn baseball since he first stepped foot on campus. Currently third among active SEC hitters and 17th nationally with 236 career hits, Ebert said getting one final shot at Alabama makes for a big weekend for him and the Tigers.
“I’m excited,” Ebert said. “I’m excited we get to play in the new stadium. It’s something I’ll be able to tell my kids about. I owe Alabama a series. I don’t know if we’ve beaten them in a series since I have been here. I’m excited. I know they’ve got some good starting pitching. It will be a challenge, but I think we’re up for it.”
Game times for the weekend series are scheduled for 7 p.m. CDT on Friday, 6 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday. Both Saturday and Sunday can be seen on the SEC Network.
Friday: Junior RHP Cole Lipscomb (2-3, 5.19 ERA) vs. Junior RHP Geoffrey Bramblett (3-2, 2.78)
Saturday: Senior RHP Justin Camp (3-3, 3.63) vs. Sophomore RHP Jake Walters (4-3, 1.99)
Sunday: TBA vs. Junior RHP Nick Eicholtz (3-2, 1.89)