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Auburn baseball vs. Tennessee - Game 1
Auburn baseball vs. Tennessee - Game 1

Auburn looks to cap season with Iron Bowl series win

Auburn (25-25, 6-21) will host No. 21 Alabama (32-19, 12-15) for a three-game series beginning Thursday to close out the season. No one around the Auburn program is hiding the fact that the season has not faired the way anyone hoped, but this weekend's series gives the Tigers the chance to end the year on a high note. Winning the greatest rivalry, no matter the sport will always make fans forget much of what else occurred during the season. 

"It's just a good time to know that it's going to be OK," Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said. "Put your head down and make it start today. I think that was kind of the theme from Missouri was 'It starts now'. The growth and the build-back and getting back to what we expect begins now and not waiting for the offseason, not waiting for next year. It starts now."

The Tigers enter the series against the Tide winners of four out of their last five games, including winning their first SEC series last weekend at Missouri. The Tigers are playing some of the best baseball of their season. Alabama, however, enters the weekend fresh off of a series win over LSU in Tuscaloosa and also winners of four out of their last five. 

With both teams entering the series playing some of their best baseball of the season, what will determine who wins the series? For Auburn, the question remains can the pitching deliver? Pitching struggles have haunted the Tigers all season, but can the pitching staff step up against their arch-rival? The pitching collapsed in game one of the series against Missouri last weekend but stepped up in the final two games to help Auburn win the series. 

Chase Allsup was a key factor for Auburn against Missouri, throwing five innings and allowing one run with nine strikeouts. Allsup has struggled this season, but another outing like the one against Missouri would give Auburn a big boost. Allsup cannot do it all, though. Other Auburn pitchers will also need to be at their best to win the series against a talented Alabama lineup. 

Alabama has one of the best lineups in the SEC with five guys hitting over .300 for the year. Third-basemen Gage Miller is the most dangerous player for the Tide hitting .376 with 18 home runs. Auburn must limit Miller and the rest of the Alabama lineup to have a chance in the series. 

Alabama's lineup may have the advantage over Auburn's pitching, but Auburn's lineup may have the advantage over Alabama's pitching. Auburn scored 32 runs in the series against Missouri and hitting has been a strength of the team all season long. With pitching a question mark, the Tigers must continue to score plenty of runs to give them the best chance of winning the series. 

Can Auburn finish the season on a high note? As disappointing as the season has been, nothing would be sweeter for Butch Thompson's team than winning a series against the Tide. The series begins Thursday at 6:00 p.m. The game will air on the SEC Network+ and the Auburn Sports Network. 

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