Auburn will send sophomore left-hander Arnold Hughey to the mound while the Bulldogs send senior Ehren Wassermann to the hill. Hughey is 0-0 after throwing three and two/thirds innings of scoreless relief over the weekend. Wasserman is 0-0 on the season with an earned run average of 2.25.
Auburn leads the all-time series with Samford, 42-9, and has won the last 12 of the last 13 games in the series dating back to 1996. The only win in the series for the Bulldogs came last season when they beat the Tigers 5-2 on Feb. 12. Overall the Tigers lead the series 28-6 in games played at Plainsman Park.
The Tigers are in the midst of the longest home stand in school history, a 15-game set. The month of February has been good to Auburn baseball teams of late. The Tigers are 66-7 in Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park in the month of February since 1996 and are 91-16 overall in February since that time.
This should be a good challenge for a Tiger team coming off the first weekend of play. Hughey is expected to be on a strict pitch count and he likely won't make it past the fifth inning. Senior starter Levale Speigner is also scheduled to get some work. There could also be some late action from freshmen Chris Dennis and Daniel Forrer as well as junior Andrew Skinner.
At the plate the Tigers had a rough time against the talented pitching staff from VCU. One player who didn't do too many things wrong in the opening series was junior college transfer Karl Ammonite. Seeing time at first base, he went 4-for-8 on the weekend with one home run and one run batted in while working Ram pitchers for three walks. Junior center fielder Javon Moran got off to a good start with a 6-for-14 weekend (.429) at the plate with two stolen bases.
The hitting star of the weekend was sophomore Sean Gamble. Delivering the winning home run in Friday night's game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the left-fielder finished with a .417 batting average and four runs batted in for the three game set. True freshman Josh Bell was also a solid contributor with four hits in 11 at-bats (.364), including three for doubles. One thing the Tigers hope to do this week is to get senior catcher Bobby Huddleston off the mat. Struggling all weekend, he hit just .083 (1-12) and left numerous runners in scoring position. If he can find his groove, it will make Auburn a tough team to beat in the coming weeks and months of the season.
Auburn returns to action this weekend when they face the Virginia Cavaliers for a three-game series at Plainsman Park. The games are scheduled for 3 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.