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FRIDAY, MAY 11, 2007
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Top-ranked Vandy visits reeling AU

By Bradley Handwerger
bhandwerger@decaturdaily.com 340-2462

Auburn left Starkville, Miss., a week ago battered and bruised, having been swept by Mississippi State.

And to think things actually could get tougher this weekend.

No. 1 Vanderbilt visits Auburn's Plainsman Park for a three-game series that, by Sunday, could eliminate Auburn (28-22, 7-17 SEC) from the SEC tournament.

Auburn is last in the conference, four games behind Alabama for the eighth and final tournament spot.

For now, Auburn's worries lay with the Commodores (41-9, 17-7), who lead the SEC. Vanderbilt is the first top-ranked team to come to Auburn since Georgia Tech did in 2003. The Yellow Jackets left that day with a 4-2 win.

It also marks the first series for Auburn against a No. 1 team since
the Tigers traveled to LSU in 1997. Auburn lost both games in that
series.

So, history is not on Auburn's side.

Neither does it help that Vanderbilt is playing some of its best baseball of the season, reeling off wins in nine of its past 10 games and scoring 10 or more runs in five of its past seven games.

The Commodores have lost only one SEC series this season, losing two of three to Arkansas early on.

Auburn's pitchers will have to deal with four of the top 20 hitters in the SEC. Dominic de la Osa leads the Commodores, batting .378 with 16 doubles and 14 home runs.

Then there's Pedro Alvarez, who is hitting .374 with 17 doubles and 13 homers.

Auburn will counter with Josh Donaldson at the plate, who is hitting .335 with 17 doubles and nine homers, and
Mike Bianucci, who is hitting 2.96 with a team-leading 13 homers.

Yet, three of Vanderbilt's pitchers rank in the top 12 in the SEC. David Price boasts a 2.77 ERA, while Mike Minor and Brett Jacobson both have 3.05 ERAs.

Friday's game begins at 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's games start at 2 and 1:30, respectively.

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