Rivalry at Riverwalk
Year 2 of the Max Capital City Classic and both teams are miles away from where they were a year ago. It will be another test for an Auburn team that's still trying to find it's identity. We'll skip the 5P Primer for Alabama (I'll save it for the series that actually counts against the Tide). Here's some quick news and notes for tonight's game:
- Cory Luckie takes the mound for Auburn. He's coming off his best performance in almost 2 years against Davidson. A solid showing here and he could supplant Jon Luke Jacobs
- Alabama will trot out Taylor Wolfe, a freshman from Columbus, GA. He's listed as being 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA. Although something is wrong with his stats. His only start so far was a midweek stint against UGA where he went 4ip/4h/2er/7k/1bb. He got credited with a win for that game, but something just doesn't add up (you have to go 5 innings to be the pitcher of record). His only other appearance was during the drubbing Bama put on UIC (25-1 mercy ruled game) where he pitched a clean frame, striking out 1.
- Alabama has a loaded bullpen, led by Nathan Kilcrease (1.23 ERA) and followed up by Brett Whitaker (who's only allowed 1 hit in 4.2 ip) and David Head (0.00 ERA)
- Offensively the teams are pretty evenly matched. The main power from Alabama comes from Clay Jones (.353 avg/4hr) and Josh Rutledge (.342/3hr) Those guys combined make up for about for 7 of Alabama's 8 HR on the year.
- The best hitter is CF Taylor Dugas. Hitting at a .452 clip with 2 triples to his credit.
- Thankfully, Auburn is hitting their stride offensively. Hunter Morris is coming off a Monster weekend, Creede Simpson continues to rake, Justin Hargett and Brian Fletcher are solid. I can't think of one Auburn player I would want to replace in the lineup.
- Wolfe is a LHP which means we probably won't see an Kevin Patterson.
- The Auburn bullpen should be well rested. Especially Austin Hubbard. If need be he could work extended relief (I don't think he saw anytime this weekend).
BOTTOM LINE: A ton of Alabama's stats are misleading. Outside of the College of Charleston (Coach John Palowski's old club) they haven't really face any strong competition. I'm hesitant to include Georgia in there. Yes, the Tide did top UGA 13-2 when the Bulldogs were ranked in the Top 25. However, after seeing the decimation that Florida State put on UGA this past weekend, maybe the Dawgs just aren't as good as people thought.
It comes down to this. Chase Alabama Pitcher Taylor Wolfe by the 4th inning. He's a strike out pitcher with solid stuff, however, he's young and if he's throwing strikes then Auburn can jump on him early. Auburn can't waste any opportunity at the plate tonight.
One positive for Auburn is we are rolling into the game with confidence. The Tigers are riding a nice 6 game winning streak and are trying to keep momentum going into the crucial showdown series against Arizona State this weekend. Add to that, the fact that we had Alabama's number last year holding them (despite all our pitching woes) to a .279 average and take 3 out of 4 from the Tide.
First pitch is schedule for 7:00pm. You can catch a live webcast of the game on WSFA.com