TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Rocky McCord said he didn’t feel nervous about pitching what could have been his final game with the Auburn baseball program.
And he certainly didn’t show any nerves in a strong start that led the Tigers to a 1-0 win over Mercer in the NCAA tournament’s Tallahassee Regional. McCord threw 6-2/3 innings, allowing six hits while striking out three and walking two.
Keegan Thompson made his first relief appearance of the year and finished off the win with 2-1/3 innings, allowing just one hit.
“It wasn’t that much pressure; I just didn’t want to make it my last game here at Auburn,” McCord said. “We’ve accomplished so much this year, and I’m playing with a great group of guys this year. We don’t have the power, we don’t have the speed like everyone else, but we fight hard. It means a lot to me to have those guys behind me and come out and have the opportunity to play our small ball game and keep the game close so they can win the game for me.”
That strategy worked to perfection Saturday, giving the Tigers (36-25) at least one more game. They will face the loser of Saturday night’s College of Charleston-Florida State game at noon on Sunday.
Blake Logan brought home the only run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth, scoring Jordan Ebert as the Tigers finished with just six hits. Logan and Ebert were pinch-hitters in the innings.
The win marked Auburn’s first 1-0 victory since it beat Samford by that score on April 9, 1996, and it is Auburn’s first shutout victory in an NCAA regional since beating Clemson 15-0 on May 31, 2003.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Auburn head coach Sunny Golloway said. “We knew it was going to be a hard-fought victory, but at this point, it’s just about trying to continue to advance and play for another day, and that’s what we’re doing.”
The Tigers helped their cause with three key defensive plays.
Jackson Burgreen made a terrific home-run robbing catch on a shot by Trey Truitt in the fifth, slamming into the wall and holding on to the ball. In the seventh, Mercer’s Danny Edgeworth lined out to shortstop with two outs and the bases loaded. Finally, with no outs in the ninth, Matt Meeder hit a rocket to Auburn third baseman Damon Haecker, but Haecker made a snag, and that turned into a double play.
Devin Bonin then struck out, but Auburn Logan couldn’t hold on to the ball, allowing Bonin to reach on a passed ball. That gave the Bears life, but Southern Conference player of the year Kyle Lewis flied out to center field to end the game.
“That was kind of the story line, really terrific defense on our part,” Golloway said. “The play Haecker made at third base when he hasn’t played at third base for us much was unbelievable. I teased him; I said, ‘You should’ve seen that play; that was a great play.’ He probably didn’t get to see it, but that that was a great play. The ball stuck in his mitt, and we did a good job executing and turning the double play.”