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FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2007
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Auburn, Tide both need victories

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

It's just another series. That's what both Alabama and Auburn baseball teams are making this weekend's three-game matchup out to be.

But in what has seemingly become the year of the Tiger in this rivalry, Auburn could put a huge blow to the Crimson Tide's postseason chances.

Last weekend, Alabama (22-16, 7-8 SEC) jumped from 11th in the SEC
standings to seventh after taking two of three from Georgia. Auburn (25-15, 4-11 SEC) is just trying to stay afloat and hope to catch some breaks to make it to Hoover for the SEC tournament.

After winning six of seven games from April 1 through April 13, the Tigers have hit a dry spell, losing two of three to South Carolina last weekend and at Samford on Wednesday.

"We have got to win games to play after the regular season and play some games in Hoover," said Auburn coach Tom Slater.

"This league is the best, and it's the best for a reason. Every weekend, every team has a chance to win two of three. We've shown at times we're capable of beating anybody and at times shown we can lose to anybody."

In previous weeks, Alabama coach Jim Wells has talked about his team's "Sunday situation" meaning the Tide's lack of pitching depth on the third day of a series.

Enter sophomore Austin Hyatt, who allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings in
Sunday's rubber match against the Bulldogs
.

Tack on Hyatt to a resurgent Miers Quigley on Friday — 2.89 earned run average — and a consistent Bernard Robert — 58 total innings pitched — on Saturday, and Alabama might have gotten back on the road to Hoover.

"If we play well enough, we will make the tournament," said Alabama designated hitter Alex Avila.

"We're Alabama, (the tournament) is in Birmingham. It's fun for the home fans and it's exciting for us, because going over to Birmingham is a lot of fun."

Alabama at Auburn

Friday's game: Alabama (22-16, 7-8 SEC) at Auburn (25-15, 4-11), 6 p.m.

Miers Quigley (4-2, 2.89 ERA), Alabama vs. Paul Burnside (6-1, 2.87), Auburn

Saturday's game: Alabama at Auburn, 3 p.m.

Bernard Robert (4-4, 3.57) vs. Taylor Thompson (4-1, 4.24)

Sunday's game: Alabama at Auburn, 1:30 p.m.

Austin Hyatt (4-1, 1.91) vs. Justin Bristow (1-4, 6.91)

- Bradley Handwerger

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