LSU hits the road today for the final regular season series, on the road at The Loveliest Village On The Plains. The Bayou Bengals are looking to shore up a shaky resume that some are now saying isn't enough to earn a regional hosting bid. Meanwhile, Auburn is just looking to qualify for the SEC Tournament next week in Hoover. I had a chance to speak with Kevin Ives of College and Magnolia (formerly of the legendary Plainsman Parking Lot blog) to find out what we can expect to see in this Thurs-Fri-Sat series.
PodKATT: Sunny Golloway had a rough start to his Auburn career, eventually leading to the dismissal of a few players. The first year hasn’t been great, but these things take time. How is the fan base taking his first season?
Kevin Ives: It's polarizing to say the least. Golloway beat the fanbase up into a frenzy with promises of Omaha, praise for the roster, and an enthusiasm Auburn fans hadn't seen in a long time. Auburn got off to a hot start and then surprised everyone by winning two SEC series (Tennessee and Texas A&M) and then the world crashed in. We lost a series to Mizzou and then everything else started to fall apart. The natives started to grow restless. The mistakes at the plate, outs on the basepaths, Golloway's flippant and sometime cavalier attitude with the media (namely when it came to calling players out by name in the press), three players leaving or being dismissed after the first two weeks, and rumblings of some behind the scenes shenanigans, have all lead to a pretty hearty divide. Some want him gone already (which is head-scratching) and others say he needs time and should get that time. I say we honestly won't know until Year 3 if CSG was the right fit. The problem, is if he will see a third year.
PK: The Auburn pitching staff doesn’t have a lot of flashy talent guys, but it does have a lot of those workman-type "second starters" you see all over the SEC. With the loss of Keegan Thompson, what’s the plan for the weekend? Also, who is Auburn’s closer this year? I ask because Terrance Dedrick’s 4 saves and 5.04 ERA don’t seem to match up.
KI: The plan for this weekend is Ortman to avoid Nola and hopefully steal a game from Poche'. We'll go Ortman/O'Neal/and then Tiberius Baracus Achilles on Saturday. After Ortman, it's really going to be anyone that Golloway can throw out there to get a good matchup. That includes Ryan Tella, the new converted CF to reliever. Who is our closer? We don't have one. It should have been Dedrick, but he's struggled. Auburn really doesn't have a closer. We've patch worked the back end of our bullpen all season.
PK: It’s easy to see that Auburn isn’t what anyone would call a power team this year. It’s also not a good thing when you lead the SEC in stolen base attempts and caught stealing. I remember Golloway’s OU teams in the past having a few sluggers. Is it just a case of making due with what you have this year while he builds a roster more to his play style?
KI: It's making due with what we have. We have some limited power guys (Damek Tomscha, Blake Austin) and guys that could develop into power hitters (Freshman Michael Robert, Blake Logan) but right now? It's just not there. That's left over from Pawlowski. We have a roster of slappers and pull-hitters and gappers because that's where he was transitioning the offense toward. Still, I don't think Golloway is looking for a big power bat in recruiting or that he'd find one. He just needs consistent gap hitters and Auburn will succeed.
PK: Bottom 9, 2 outs, 1 on, down 1. Who do you want at the plate?
KI: Jordan Ebert. Love the kid.
PK: How do you see the series going?
KI: Auburn needs 1. I think we can steal one win. Unfortunately, I think that's all we can steal. Our best shot is tonight. We've somewhat conceded Friday, and Saturday is a crap shoot. If we take Thursday, we may (MAY) be able to take Saturday. Especially when we wake up and see that a win and we're in Hoover. That's the hope. We have to win 1 more game this weekend than either UGA or Tennessee. That's getting 1 win and hoping for a UK or UF sweep. That starts with 1 win.