Tigers Have Family Reunion Against VMI

Auburn, Ala.–It will be a homecoming of sorts for Auburn coaches Tommy Slater and Chris Finwood this weekend when the Virginia Military Institute Keydets come to Plainsman Park for a three-game series with the Tigers.

A 1990 graduate of VMI, Slater was a four-year letterwinner at third base for the Keydets and was a teammate of Finwood, who is one-year older than Slater and played shortstop. Finwood coached at VMI from 1989-1994 and was head coach for the last three seasons, where Slater was his assistant.

Arnold Hughey is Auburn's Friday night starter on the mound.

In addition Slater's brother Andrew, who played two seasons at Auburn in 1999 and 2000, is a coach for VMI. Slater said this weekend is a special one for several reasons, one of the biggest is the fact that he recruited many of the current players as the head coach at VMI from 2001-2004.

"Obviously I know a lot of the VMI kids as I recruited three of the classes on the team and coached two of them," Slater said. "My brother Andrew is an assistant for VMI, so I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces."

Currently 12-5 on the season, the Tigers are coming off a solid weekend when they took two of three from the Clemson Tigers last weekend. VMI is 8-7, but the Keydets have played a strong schedule to this point. Slater said this is a team that Auburn better not take lightly or the Tigers could be in trouble.

"VMI is a club that has traveled to Florida State and Vanderbilt already this season," Slater said. "They're not afraid to play a big-time opponent. They're going to get after us on every pitch and will play hard the entire weekend. VMI is a very good offensive club, are well coached, and have a veteran pitching staff."

The pitching rotations for the weekend have Arnold Hughey on the mound for the Tigers Friday night against Duke Acors for VMI. Hughey is 2-1 with a 4.33 ERA while Acor comes in at 1-1 and an earned run average of 4.07. Saturday Auburn's Josh Sullivan (2-1, 2.73 ERA) will take on junior right-hander J.J. Hollenbeck (0-1, 6.63) while Sunday has Josh Blake for Auburn up against Jimmy Thoms for VMI. Blake is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA while Thoms enters at 3-0 with an earned run average of 4.96.

Game times for the weekend are 7 on Friday night, 4 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Sunday is Coca-Cola Family Day as fans will receive two free youth admissions with the purchase of two adult tickets. Sunday is also Mayfield Dairy Team Photo and Autograph Day as the first 500 fans will received a 2005 Auburn team photo. There will be a post-game autograph session on the Tiger Terrace.

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