After winning an important series last weekend against Arizona State, the Tigers struggled at times Tuesday night before finally putting Davidson away 10-4.
One of the players who had a big hand in the victory was first baseman Andy Bennett. A player who started his senior year out poorly with just five hits in his first 30 at-bats, the former Miami Hurricane had five hits in his last 12 at-bats and is coming on at just the right time. He says that right now this Auburn team is playing with something he didn't see last season.
"We're really confident," Bennett says. "This is my second year and I think this is the most confident we've been. We expect to win. Last year I think we went out some times just hoping to win instead of having the mentality of going out and getting the victory."
A reason for confidence this season has been the performance of Auburn's pitching staff. In 16 games the Tigers have a team ERA of just 3.31 and they've struck out 134 while walking just 46. The wealth has been spread among a variety of players as eight different pitchers have thrown at least 10 innings with eight also getting wins. That depth is something that Coach Tommy Slater was hoping to see and he says that it has given his team a different attitude.
"When you can pitch, that's why these kids have confidence," Slater says. "They know that every time we come to the yard we're going to send guys out to the mound who can pitch. That gives you confidence. You come to the park every day thinking you are going to win."
True freshman second baseman Robert Brooks is six for his last 14 at the plate and is currently hitting .333 for the season.
This weekend the Tigers will need to again pitch well because they are facing one of the top pitching clubs they will see this season in Purdue. Coming in after an impressive sweep of Western Kentucky last weekend, the Boilermakers are led by a powerful starting rotation of Josh Lindblom, Ricky Heines and Tony Sedlmeyer. Slater says this series will be a tough one in every facet of the game.
"We've got our work cut out for us this weekend because Purdue can really pitch," Slater says. "They've got two SEC pitchers on their staff. Lindblom, the number one, was a third-round pick out of high school and signed with the University of Tennessee. He was in Tennessee's starting rotation as a true freshman. He is their Friday night guy. They've got another kid who signed with LSU out of Indiana last year (Sedlmeyer), but when they made the coaching change he decided he didn't want to go to LSU and stayed at Purdue."
While Lindblom and Sedlmeyer may be names Auburn fans are more familiar with, it has been Heines who has been the stud through two weekends for the Boilermakers. With a 2-0 record, Heines has given up just one earned run in 15 innings this season including a shutout at Georgia their opening weekend of play.
"They played Western Kentucky last weekend," Slater says. "I have talked to Andrew (Slater) already, my brother, and he said they can pitch. Their starting pitching, all three, are very solid. They've got a really good closer. We'll see some pretty good pitching this weekend.
"They're good," he adds. "This is a Big 10 team. They are going to be physical. They are going to be able to hit the fastball. They'll be solid. We played Purdue while I was at Florida. They are a very good team and very well-coached."
At the plate, Purdue is led by Spencer Ingaldson, who is hitting .522 with four doubles in four games. The most dangerous of Purdue's hitters though has been leadoff man Jordan Comadena. A talented player, Comadena was on fire last weekend against the Hilltoppers when he went 9-15 with two home runs, three doubles, six RBI and seven runs scored. For the year he's hitting .417 with seven RBI and four doubles.
Game times for the weekend are scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Auburn will send its regular rotation to the mound of Bryan Woodall on Friday, Paul Burnside on Saturday and Evan Crawford on Sunday.