With Boston College, Missouri and Florida Atlantic all coming in with 2-1 records, the challenge won't be an easy one this weekend for the Tigers after they took two of three from Southeast Missouri State in the opening weekend. Pawlowski said the chance to take on quality opponents in a tournament-style setting should be good for his team.
"What we've tried to do with this tournament is put ourselves in an environment where it's kind of like a regional," Pawlowski said. "When you look at this tournament you have Boston College and Missouri who were both in a regional last year and Florida Atlantic has been in regionals. These are all quality teams. I wanted to get our players in the mindset that this is what it's going to be like. To do that you have to bring some good teams in. We've got three quality opponents this weekend and the opportunity to play the best teams is something we look forward to."
Auburn will once again go into the weekend less than full strength as the Tigers will be without center fielder Trent Mummey (ankle) and his back up Justin Fradejas (hand) for at least the next few weeks. Without them last weekend junior college transfer Crede Simpson made the switch from right field to center and did an admirable job. Catcher Tony Caldwell went to right field and filled in nicely as well.
The good news is that while Justin Bryant will likely continue to be Auburn's shortstop in the absence of Casey McElroy, Pawlowski said there's a chance the sophomore could be available in a pinch hitting role this weekend after missing last week with a hand injury.
Auburn will use its same rotation from the previous weekend as sophomore Jon Luke Jacobs (0-1, 7.71 ERA) will face Boston College on Friday, junior Grant Dayton (0-0, 3.86) is on the mound Saturday against Missouri and junior Cole Nelson (1-0, 0.00) finishes things off on Sunday against Florida Atlantic.
At the plate the Tigers are led by sophomore third baseman Dan Gamache. Hitting .556, the Rhode Island native had five hits and walked seven times last weekend for an on-base percentage of .750. Wes Gilmer came on as Auburn's DH last weekend and had four hits in eight at-bats. First baseman Hunter Morris was 6-15 with a pair of RBI. Left fielder Brian Fletcher was just 4-14, but had a homer and six RBI to lead the team.
Game times for the tournament are Missouri vs. Florida Atlantic on 2 p.m. Friday with Auburn-Boston College to follow at 6. Saturday has Boston College vs. Florida Atlantic at 11 a.m. with Auburn -Missouri at 2. Sunday's games are Boston College vs. Missouri at 11 a.m. and Auburn-Florida Atlantic to follow at 2.
Saturday is a big day at Plainsman Park as the first class of the Auburn Baseball Wall of Fame will be introduced with their likenesses on display around the outfield fence. Outfielder Bo Jackson, pitcher Gregg Olson, first baseman Frank Thomas and pitcher/outfielder Tim Hudson will all be on hand as they are honored on Saturday in between games. Pawlowski said it's a great day for Auburn baseball and one he's looking forward to.
"We wanted to do a couple of things," Pawlowski said. "First we wanted to re-connect with the past, the guys who have played here and laid the foundation for where we are today. We wanted to connect them with the present, the guys that are playing here right now and putting the Auburn uniform on. We want to build for the future of our program. To have those four guys all commit and come back with their families to Auburn is pretty special.
"It's going to be a special day. I can't thank them enough. They had great careers here at Auburn and beyond Auburn. Tim is still playing. They are great ambassadors for Auburn University. They have done nothing but spread goodwill throughout the country for Auburn. This is our way of saying thank you."