Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers (23-30, 8-19) will try to wrap up a berth in the SEC Baseball Tournament this week when Butch Thompson’s club heads to Vanderbilt for three games against the Commodores (38-15, 15-12) to close out the regular season.
Due to a change in schedule trying to avoid bad weather on Friday the teams are now scheduled to play two games on Thursday at 2 p.m. CDT and 6:30 p.m. before heading into the regular season finale on Saturday at 2 p.m.
With junior Cole Lipscomb dealing with a sore arm the last two weeks and because of a short outing for Justin Camp last weekend, Camp will be bumped up in the rotation this week and gets the start on Thursday night for the Tigers. With a record of 3-4 and an ERA of 4.36, Camp will face a Vanderbilt offense led by speedy Jeren Kendall and the power of Bryan Reynolds.
Batting .335 with 24 stolen bases, Kendall sets the table for the Vanderbilt offense but also has plenty of power with eight home runs this year and a team-leading 52 runs batted in. Reynolds is the guy that does much of the damage for the Commodores however, blasting 11 home runs and driving in 46 runs.
Because of the change in rotation for the Tigers they will be listed as TBA on both Friday and Saturday with Lipscomb (2-4, 4.73), Casey Mize (2-4, 3.29), Ben Braymer (4-4, 3.45), Gabe Klobosits (3-5, 5.03) and Daniel Robert (0-0, 3.00) all available for Auburn.
“With Justin not getting very deep in the game we’re going to start him on Thursday,” Thompson said. “We’re going to move him up a day and then we’re just going to be TBA, TBA. We’re going to try to win a game as early in the weekend as we possibly can and if we do then we’ll think about two.”
With a one game lead over both Arkansas and Tennessee for the final spot in the SEC Tournament, the Tigers likely need at least one win to secure a spot in the field. The Razorbacks hold the tiebreaker over Auburn, but playing on the road at Mississippi State would mean winning two games from the Bulldogs if Auburn manages one win in Nashville. Auburn holds the tiebreaker with Tennessee, meaning one win for the Tigers would force the Vols to sweep at Georgia on the final weekend of play.
“If you’re stair-stepping you’re goals, it’s huge,” Thompson said of what it would mean to get in the SEC Tournament. “When I mention experiences, for the freshmen it’s the first time, for the seniors the last time. We should all be fighting to get more pitches and more games to play.
“It’s a very good goal and something we should all be striving for,” he added. “I think our SEC Tournament is probably the second highest-attended event out there other than Omaha and that’s something you want to be a part of and represent your institution and your school.
“I want these guys to get an opportunity to do that, but they’ll have to play their way in. We’re not going to be able to back our way in. We’re going to have to win a ballgame or two or three, however many it takes, on the road in a tough place and against a good program to do it.”