Tide to face rival Auburn Tigers

Kevin Connell

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The Alabama baseball team will travel to Montgomery, Ala., March 5 to play the Auburn Tigers in the fifth annual Capital City Classic at Riverwalk Stadium.

The Crimson Tide (8-3) enters the contest on a high after defeating the Tulane Green Wave 12-6 Sunday in arguably its best team performance of the season. The Tide recorded 10 hits for the game and a season-high 12 runs.

Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard was impressed with his team’s composure at the plate and ability to play from behind.

“Ben [Moore] and [Austen] Smith had a good day, but some other guys had some good swings too,” Gaspard said after Sunday’s win. “The same way we give a lead up, we have the ability to respond and come back again and take it back and then put the game away.”

The strong performance at the plate came after several games in which the Tide struggled offensively.

Gaspard said he believes the hits can be contagious throughout the lineup moving forward, and the Tide will need this momentum as it progresses further into the season.

“That’s what this game is,” he said. “It’s kind of like the big inning we had [in Sunday’s win]. You want to put things in bunches and put them together. That’s the contagiousness, and it just kind of flows from there. Once we had that inning even though we got down, we still got a pretty good frame of mind offensively from that point.”

Alabama is 0-4 all-time against Auburn (8-3) in the Classic – a trend the Tide hopes to reverse this year. As one of the seniors on the roster, catcher Brett Booth said he is tired of losing against his team’s rival in this game, especially one of this magnitude.

“All four years we went down there, it’s been a long bus ride home on the way back,” Booth said. “It would be nice to get down there and get off to an early start and finally get a win down there before I graduate.

“I think the biggest thing [about this game] is that it’s Alabama and Auburn. You look at our stadium and their stadium, this one is about twice the size of both of them, and it’s always going to be packed out. It’s just an electric atmosphere to play in.”

Although this game only counts toward the overall record and not toward conference play, the meaning of this game extends far beyond that and the bragging rights that come with a win.

The true meaning of this game is to raise awareness for cancer. Every player on the Alabama and Auburn rosters will shave their heads to show their support in finding a cure for the disease.

“Obviously, so many of all of us have been touched in different ways by cancer,” Gaspard said. “So it’s an opportunity I think for both Alabama and Auburn to heighten awareness for a tremendous cause.”

Sophomore lefty Taylor Guilbeau (1-0, 2.61 ERA) will make his third start of the season for the Tide. Junior right-hander Dillion Ortman (0-1, 2.70 ERA) will likely get the nod for the Tigers.

First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday. The two teams will meet again later this season in conference play for a three-game series March 28-30 at Auburn University.

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