Miami comes into the weekend at 2-4 overall with wins over Furman and Louisiana-Lafayette while Auburn is 6-2 after sweeping a mid-week doubleheader from Davidson on Wednesday.
The RedHawks are led by junior outfielder Adam Eaton at the plate. One of the top hitters in the Mid-American Conference, Eaton's .478 batting average is second in the league while his 12 runs scored, five stolen bases, two triples and .870 slugging percentage all lead or tie for the lead in the MAC. Eaton also ranks in the conference's top five in hits (tie for 3rd/11), RBI (2nd/9), total bases (t-3rd/20), and on-base percentage (2nd/.600).
Eaton is one of just two regulars on the roster who are hitting above .300 as Adam Weisenburger is hitting .333 with two doubles and seven RBI. As a team the RedHawks are hitting just .241 while opponents have an average of .304. Miami hitters have struck out 51 times this season while walking only 12.
On the mound a pair of relievers have been virtually unhittable this season. Kyle Donawerth has allowed just one hit in four and two/thirds innings while Jordan Jankowski has been even better with four innings of hitless ball, walking just three. The two have six combined appearances this season.
Junior college transfer Cole Nelson
For Auburn pitching will again be the story as sophomore Jon Luke Jacobs (0-1, 6.00 ERA) and junior Grant Dayton (0-1, 7.00) will again be the Friday night and Saturday starters for the Tigers. The question comes on Sunday as junior college transfer Cole Nelson (2-0, 0.73) has been the pitching star through two weeks, but returned home on Monday to be with his ailing father. Coach John Pawlowski said because of that he's not sure how things will look this weekend.
"I think Cole is going to try to get back to Auburn on Friday," Pawlowski said. "If that's the case then we'll have an opportunity to get him back into the rotation on Sunday. A lot of it is predicated on if his dad continues to make progress. All indications are he's slowly making some progress."
One of the players who is back for the Tigers is shortstop Casey McElroy. Out the first two weekends because of a hand injury, the sophomore was back at shortstop in game two on Wednesday. That allowed junior Justin Bryant to slide over to shortstop where he may continue to play along with sophomore Dan Gamache.
In the outfield Crede Simpson has done a remarkable job in center field along with catcher Tony Caldwell in right field. With Trent Mummey and Justin Fradejas both out because of injuries, it has forced a juggling of players in the oufield. Pawlowski said everywhere his team has been faced with adversity and it should only make them stronger.
"We've played eight games and this team has been through more adversity and more things have come and gone," Pawlowski said. "I told the guys that through all the adversity we're going to find a way to be better for it."
Tony Caldwell greets Brian Fletcher after one of his home runs this season.
At the plate junior left fielder Brian Fletcher continues to lead the Tigers, hitting .394 with four home runs and 19 RBI in just eight games. It is the most RBI by an Auburn player in eight games since Gabe Gross had 24 in 2000. Fletcher has half of the Tigers' eight home runs so far this season.
Caldwell is next for the Tigers with a .379 average and an on-base percentage of .486. Justin Hargett is third on Auburn's team with a .368 average and leads the SEC in doubles with eight. Both he and Simpson have scored 11 runs this season, accounting for a third of the runs scored by the Tigers so far in 2010.
Game times for the weekend are 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.