Magic City Double Dip Awaits Tigers

Birmingham, Ala.--Following a three-game sweep of Murray State over the weekend that saw Auburn pitchers give up just nine hits in 25 innings, including a perfect game by <b>Eric Brandon</b> on Saturday, the Tigers head to Birmingham to face the UAB and Samford in single games Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Tigers also face ACC toughie North Carolina for a weekend series beginning this Friday at Plainsman Park. With eight games in 10 days, the pitching staff will get a severe workout beginning with Tuesday's game at Luther Young Field against the Blazers.

"This is a tough stretch," Auburn coach Steve Renfroe says. "We really don't have pitching set up for this week. The weather-out with South Alabama really changes everything. We would have had Levale (Speigner) for that game and for Tuesday. Now we don't. It will probably be (Arnold) Hughey, the freshman, and piecing games with relievers. They'll be loaded for us and it's going to be in their parks. I think it's good for us. We're probably going to be down in the tank a little bit and we'll find out if we can scrap and claw with not our best guys."

Hughey, 0-0 on the season with an ERA of 6.23 in just four and one/third innings of work, will face a UAB team that is used to seeing top-flight competition. Although they have a record of just 5-6 on the year, the Blazers have already defeated Kentucky and have two losses to Ohio State and another to Mississippi State to show for the year to this point. This will be a stiff challenge for the freshman left-hander from Venice, Fla. in his first start.

Wednesday the Tigers will be looking for revenge against a Samford team that handed them their first loss of the season. Needing to keep the starting three rotation intact and also keep some bullpen arms fresh for the series with North Carolina, the Bulldogs will likely see an assortment of Auburn pitchers. Expected to get some work are Andrew Skinner, Reid Price, Sean Jones and possibly top relievers Cory Dueitt and Ken Clayton. The Bulldogs come in with an overall record of 8-5 on the season, including winning two-of-three from Mercer over the weekend to open Atlantic Sun Conference play.

Auburn counters with a team that is full of confidence at the moment. With a sweep of Murray State under their belts in less-than-ideal conditions, the Tigers now look to carry the momentum on to the Magic City. The leader of that charge is designated hitter/catcher Bobby Huddleston. Hitting .510 on the year with two home runs, eight doubles and 16 runs batted in, the junior has been a steady force in the middle of the Auburn order all year long. Right behind him is junior college transfer Mike Mueller. Leading the team with four home runs, the big left-hander is hitting .462 on the season with 16 runs batted in.

The surprise of the Tiger order comes in three forms in middle infielders Jonathan Schuerholz, Chuck Jeroloman and Tug Hulett. Hitting .429, .395 and .378, respectively, the trio has combined for 19 runs batted in while adding 11 doubles.

The first pitch for Tuesday is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the same is true of Wednesday's game, which will be played on the Samford campus. Auburn returns to action Friday night when it plays North Carolina in the first of a three-game series at Plainsman Park.

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