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May 17, 2012

Tigers close regular season against No. 2 UF

After taking two of the three on the road against SEC West foe Arkansas, the Tigers enter this weekend riding a wave of momentum.

Right-hander Jon Luke Jacobs (5-2, 3.10 ERA) will get the nod Thursday, while the visiting Gators will send right-hander Hudson Randall (6-1, 3.29) to counter Jacobs. The Tigers have already clinched a birth in the SEC tournament as the 10th seed, but could move up as high as the sixth seed with a successful weekend against Florida.

Auburn currently leads the SEC in stolen bases with 104, and is converting an impressive 75% percent of steal attempts. Jay Gonzalez has swiped a team best 27 bases, which ranks third in Auburn history. The Tigers will need to continue doing damage on the base paths, and setting up runners in scoring position to have a chance to steal the series from Florida.

The Tigers rank last in the league in fielding percentage (.961), which has aided their losing record in one-run games this season (4-6). For the Tigers to improve their postseason stock against the Gators starting this Thursday, the defense will have to improve greatly.

Patrick Savage has been on fire in the month of May, and is a big reason why the Tigers have been able to navigate through their way through a tough late conference schedule. Savage is hitting .368 in the month of May, while racking up two doubles, three home runs, and nine RBI. The Tigers have suffered an influx of injuries lately, and Savage has been a huge answer off the bench for Auburn.

Tonight's matchup starts at 6:00pm; Friday's game also starts at 6:00pm, and finishes Saturday at 1:00pm. Friday's pitching matchup will see Florida's Brian Johnson (5-4, 4.29 ERA) face Auburn freshman southpaw Daniel Koger (3-4, 2.76 ERA).

Saturday's finale will pit the Gators Karsten Whitson (3-0, 3.33 ERA) against an Auburn pitcher to be named at a later date.


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