Rocky McCord was solid in help Auburn past Georgia on Friday night
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Rocky McCord got the clutch strikeouts, won his second straight SEC game and had his coach excited about winning another baseball series Friday night.
Auburn's 5-1 win over Georgia on Friday night in Plainsman Park was the third SEC series win in the last five tries.
"Rocky had me fired up. I couldn't stay in the dugout. I'm trying to meet him at the foul line," said Sunny Golloway. "I was fired up for the big guy."
McCord allowed one run in six innings, following up Cole Lipscomb's seven-inning, 2-run performance the night before in a 4-2 Auburn win.
McCord got the runs he needed when Sam Gillikin hit a bases-loaded triple. Anfernee Grier and Daniel Robert drove in Auburn's other runs, and Melvin Gray extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
Auburn improved to 28-16 overall and 9-11 in the Southeastern Conference, and are 8-6 since a 1-5 start in the league. The 28 victories match last year's win total. Georgia fell to 21-22 overall and 6-13 in the conference. Auburn will go for the series sweep on Saturday in a game moved from noon to 5 p.m. because of the forecast of early rain.
McCord improved to 4-3, striking out a career-high eight in an SEC game. Justin Camp pitched three shutout innings for his seventh save.
McCord waited for this moment, a long time really, after pitching only 2⅔ innings last year. He was set to sign with the Kansas City Royals' organization before a text exchange with Golloway ultimately led to his return.
"All I wanted to here was make an impact," McCord said. "Last year, I didn't really play much and the years before that I didn't really have an impact. Before I left here that's all I really wanted to do, help my school win."
Gillikin came through, too, delivering the big hit with the bases loaded.
"That was a lot of weight off my shoulders," he said. That's because he said he didn't do get that hit with the bases loaded at Vanderbilt. "I didn't get much sleep the rest of that week."
He can rest easy now.
"That's something I didn't want to happen again."
Auburn has nine SEC games remaining after Saturday: Three at South Carolina and three at Florida sandwiched around a three-game home series against Alabama May 8-10.
"After the Vanderbilt series," said McCord. "We kind of got together as a team and kind of mapped out a plan for success for the end of the year. We're following that plan well."
Auburn will start Dalton Rentz on Saturday, holding out ace Keegan Thompson out for the entire series. Golloway said Thompson had tendinitis, but was fine now. Golloway said the threat of rain played in his decision to not pitch him this weekend.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine