Auburn faces Ole Miss in SEC Tournament opener

By Jacob Hillman

Auburn baseball fought its way to Hoover during the last month of the regular season with series wins against Georgia, Texas A&M and Missouri. Auburn enters the tournament as the No. 12 seed and will face No. 5 Ole Miss in the nightcap on Tuesday.

It was not an easy road for Auburn to get to Hoover after starting SEC play 3-16, but a strong finish got them into postseason play. They will have to keep up that momentum on Tuesday to beat Ole Miss and get them into the double elimination portion of the tournament.

For Auburn to continue its season past Hoover, the Tigers would likely have to at least make the SEC Championship on Sunday, if not win it, to automatically qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

These divisional foes faced off in March to open conference play. Ole Miss swept the Tigers behind strong pitching performances in games one and two and an offensive explosion in game three.

It is likely that the pitching matchup will be different from any of the games in that series.

Auburn ace Jack Owen made his first appearance of the season in a relief role in the Sunday game, and current SEC Pitcher of the Week Richard Fitts was out with a foot injury.

For Ole Miss, Gunnar Hoglund underwent Tommy John surgery after tearing his UCL and exiting his start against Texas A&M in the first inning. Hoglund struck out 13 Tiger batters in March. Auburn did not see Ole Miss ace Doug Nikhazy who was dealing with a chest injury. Nikhazy boasts a 2.12 ERA in 2021.

Both teams rank in the top three in the SEC in batting average and in the top half of the league in home runs. Auburn hits .282 as a team, and Ole Miss hits .297. The Tigers have 85 home runs this season, and the Rebels have hit 69 home runs heading into the SEC Tournament.

No. 12 Auburn and No. 5 Ole Miss is scheduled for first pitch at 8 p.m. after the conclusion of the LSU-Georgia game on SEC Network.

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