The last time Jon Luke Jacobs pitched for Auburn against the Florida Gators, he recorded just four outs and left the game with his team trailing 5-0. That won't bother him in his next start against the Gators, which comes today at 5:30 p.m ET in the opening round of the SEC tournament.
Jacobs said this about his dreadful outing:
"Trying to redeem myself from the outing on Thursday night," Jacobs said. "I'm just going to try to learn some things and have a little bit different approach than what I had last Thursday."
Although Jacobs didn't make it out of the second inning, he showed the ability to work himself out of trouble. After loading the bases in the top of the first, he allowed just one run in the inning on a sacrifice fly. Jacobs' rough start against the Gators is more of an anomaly than a trend, as the senior right-hander went 5-3 this season, pitching to the tune of a 3.75 ERA.
This is do-or-die time for the Tigers (30-26, 13-17) as they are on the outside looking in at a bid to the NCAA tournament. Jacobs has no choice but to pitch to the best of his ability this evening, for his team is down a few key players. Left fielder Cullen Wacker (great name for a baseball player), first basement Garrett Cooper, shortstop Dan Glevenyak and right fielder Jay Gonzalez are all questionable for the SEC tournament due to a plague of injuries suffered at the end of the regular season.
Things don't look all that terrible for Auburn though, as Regions Park is more cavernous than their home stadium. Florida's lineup is one of the most powerful in the conference and pitching in a pitcher's park will bode well for Jacobs, who has held batters to a paltry .209 batting average against in 62.1 innings. Jacobs will also have the luxury of consulting with Derek Varnadore, another senior Tigers pitcher who helped the team win one-of-three against the Gators with an effective outing that led to a 5-4 win.
That plan will most likely revolve around baiting the Florida hitters into hitting the ball into the spacious outfield at Regions Park. Jacobs will use his fast outfielders to his advantage and should be able to keep the ball in the ballpark.
The Tigers are the No. 10 seed in the SEC tournament and are hoping to put together a Cinderella story to make a run at the NCAA tournament. They are currently the underdogs, and who performs best and carries the team on an underdog squad? The seniors do and Jacobs will do exactly that for Auburn.