Tigers Look To Keep Momentum Against Samford

Auburn will venture outside the conference when the Tigers take on Samford at Plainsman Park.

Auburn, Ala.--Despite losing two of three games over the weekend to Top 10 foe South Carolina, the Auburn Tigers (11-12) are coming off perhaps their best performance of the season on Sunday as they head into a mid-week game against the Samford Bulldogs Tuesday night at Plainsman Park.

Looking to build on the momentum of a solid performance, Auburn will take on Samford for the 59th time in baseball. The Tigers lead the series 48-10 and have a 31-7 record in games played at Plainsman Park.

Auburn enters the contest hitting .276 as a team with 15 home runs and 21 stolen bases. Leading the charge on offense is second baseman Tyler Johnstone. The leadoff man for the Tigers, Johnstone has reached base safely in 33 consecutive games and has scored 30 runs during that stretch.

First baseman Andy Bennett leads the Tigers with five home runs and 27 RBI this season.

Andy Bennett has been the most consistent producer in the middle of the Auburn order.

The Tigers are listed as TBA (to be announced) on the mound for Tuesday's game with several players expected to see action. Among those are sophomore Clarence Nicely and freshmen Bryan Woodall, Paul Burnside and Brandan Teague. There is also a chance that junior college transfer Andy Masten could get some time after a dominating week out of the bullpen last week.

Over the course of the last week, Masten pitched a complete game out of the bullpen. Masten came on in two key spots for the Tigers last week, entering Tuesday's game with Davidson after just 1.3 of an inning was played due to an injury to AU's starter and earning the win. He came in again in Saturday's game with South Carolina game as the long reliever.

Getting more pitching help is important for the Tigers as they prepare to get back into conference play on Friday. Starter Chris Dennis has been bothered by a sore shoulder and then a pulled muscle in his side suffered last Friday. Coach Tommy Slater said because of that and very few quality starts the Tigers may have to look at things differently down the road in terms of pitching.

"Other than Evan (Evan Crawford) we don't have any starters that have been going past the fifth inning," Slater said. "Maybe we do need to look at piecing together some games or scripting some games, even on the weekends. That may be something we need to do.

"We've had some guys go out and do a great job of giving us three innings or four innings. That might be something we look to do as we head into this week, maybe taking some guys and say, ‘let's piece this thing together' on a certain day and then move into another day with another guy."

The Bulldogs are expected to start senior Stephen Artz, who is 2-3 with a 10.12 ERA this season.

Samford is coached by former Tiger star Casey Dunn, who is in his second season as the head man for the Bulldogs. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. Auburn returns to conference play this weekend when the Tigers travel to Nashville to face the Vanderbilt Commodores in a three-game series.

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