Auburn won the earlier meeting between the two schools and is looking for its 29th win this season against 14 losses. Samford enters with a record of 10-26, but the Bulldogs have won four games in a row including a victory over Alabama in Tuscaloosa last Wednesday.
The Tigers come into the 6 p.m. game at Joe Lee Griffin field on the Samford campus after an emotional rollercoaster of a weekend that saw them lose two of three at home to Mississippi State. Despite being down they come in with some momentum following a four-run ninth inning during Sunday's game that led to a comeback victory. Needing something good to happen at home for a change, Auburn pounded MSU bullpen to get a huge victory and stay one game ahead of Mississippi State in the SEC standings.
After depleting the bullpen in last weekend's series, the Tigers are expected to start freshman Jared Shore or senior Colby Paxton against Samford and will likely use a variety of arms in the game. This season Shore is 0-0 with a 6.38 ERA in eight appearances with one start. In 18 1/3 innings Shore has given up 26 hits, but has walked just two. Paxton is 2-2 with a 8.53 earned run average in nine appearances. The former starter for the Tigers has given up 28 hits and 18 runs in just 19 innings of work this season.
At the plate both Josh Bell and Tug Hulett continue to climb in average after a strong week for each. Bell is hitting .293 with a team-leading 10 home runs and 38 runs batted in. After collecting just four hits in a span of 10 games, Bell has responded with eight hits in the last four games. Hulett was 7-13 against MSU with a five-hit game in an extra-inning loss on Saturday. He also added to his team-leading total of 33 walks in the process.
Samford will counter with a team that has improved in all areas since losing to the Tigers on Feb. 24. The Bulldogs are hitting .282 as a team with 18 home runs and 53 doubles. Leading the way at the plate is Matt Alling with a .380 average, two home runs and 32 runs batted in. The power guy for Samford is Richard Bishop with six home runs and 24 RBI.
On the mound is where Samford has struggled. As a team the earned run average is just 5.82 with the best job being done by Joseph Edens. In 15 appearances this season he is 3-5 with a 4.45 earned run average. Another hurler getting the job done is Parker Gargis. The son of former Auburn quarterback Phil Gargis, Parker is 0-5, but has the third best ERA on the team at 5.19 and has thrown 34-plus innings this season. He gets the nod on Tuesday night as the starter.
Auburn returns to play this weekend when it travels to Gainesville to face the Eastern Division leading Florida Gators in a three-game series. The Tigers have won all four road series this season.