Tigers Hoping To Raid Yellow Jackets For Win

Auburn, Ala.--Coming off a strong weekend in Knoxville, defeating Tennessee two of three games, the 13th-ranked Auburn Tigers (20-6) travel to Atlanta Tuesday night to face the surging Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (15-11) in the final match-up between the two schools this season.

Earlier this month in Auburn the Tigers dominated the Yellow Jackets, winning 6-2 after strong performances by both Arnold Hughey and Steven Register on the mound. This time around Auburn will face a different Yellow Jacket team, one that has won six of its last eight games behind an offense that has found its mark after struggling to open the season.

Floundering at 9-9 after being swept at home by the Virginia Cavaliers, Georgia Tech came out of the doldrums with a two-game pummeling of Purdue and haven't looked back since. The Yellow Jackets are averaging just under 10 runs per game during the current stretch and earned a big victory last week over Georgia in Athens.

When the two teams met back on March 2 the Yellow Jackets had just three players hitting over .300 and had not shown much power, but that's not the case now in either department. Brandon Boggs still leads the team in hitting at .368, but there are five other Georgia Tech players hitting over .300 with Eric Patterson, Micah Owings and Tyler Greene all in the group. In addition to being one of the team's best pitchers, Owings leads the club with seven home runs and 25 runs batted in.

On the mound the Tigers are expected to face freshman left-hander Lee Hyde for the Yellow Jackets. This season Hyde is 1-1 with a 3.79 ERA in eight appearances, including two starts. He was perfect in one inning of work against Auburn earlier this year.

For Auburn this game is about continuing an offensive re-birth that happened this past weekend in Knoxville. Struggling mightily after losing two of three to Kentucky at home in the SEC opener, Auburn found a way to win Friday's opener on a home run by Josh Sullivan and then used the long ball again from Josh Bell and Chuck Jeroloman on Sunday to take the series from the hot Volunteers.

Clete Thomas is second in the SEC with 17 stolen bases. He has reached base in his last 22 contests and 25 of 26 games this season.

Center fielder Clete Thomas continues to lead the Tigers in six offensive categories and is hitting .375 in his last 10 games, but several Tigers came through big against Tennessee and are hoping to build on that beginning Tuesday night. Jeroloman, hitless in the first two games of the series, had a home run and two doubles against the Vols on Sunday to provide some offense for the Tigers.

Even more impressive was the performance of Bell. Auburn's starting pitcher on Sunday, Bell hit two solo home runs and gave up just two earned runs in five innings to pick up the victory. Bell's first home run went an estimated 450 feet over the left field fence and cleared Todd Helton Drive just outside of Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

One of Auburn's biggest surprises has been the play of Derek Sain at first base in conference play. Inserted into the lineup as Auburn's everyday first baseman before the Kentucky series, Sain has responded by hitting .400 in conference play and also added his first home run against UAB last week. Sain enters Tuesday's game having reached base in six of his last nine plate appearances.

Auburn is listed as TBA for the starting pitcher on Tuesday night, but expect Colby Paxton, Chris Dennis and Jared Shore to all get some work as the Tigers get ready for a tough SEC stretch the next two weeks. Auburn welcomes #2 LSU this coming weekend for a three-game series before traveling to #4 Ole Miss the next weekend.

The first pitch for Tuesday night's game is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game can be seen live on Comcast Sports Southeast. Auburn leads the all-time series against Georgia Tech 58-40-1 and lead 25-13-1 in Atlanta.

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