April 17, 2014
Auburn basetball coach Sunny Golloway says he’s going to back to his baseball beliefs (Zach Bland photo)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. – Sunny Golloway, Auburn’s first-year baseball coach, is frustrated. He says things should be different as Auburn heads into the second half of the Southeastern Conference schedule. And he vows change is coming.
The Tigers are 21-17 over and 6-9 in the Southeastern Conference as they await a weekend series with No. 11 South Carolina (28-9, 8-7) at Plainsman Park. They have lost seven of their last nine SEC games and three consecutive series. On Tuesday, they lost to Samford for the second time this season.
“I got away from some of the truths that have gotten me to where I am or maybe made me inviting to Auburn to hire me,” Golloway said. “I'm going to go back to those.”
Among those “truths” for Golloway are pitching his No. 1 starter on Saturday, being aggressive on the bases without running needlessly into outs, getting bunts down for squeezes or sacrifices and playing sound defense.
"Sure we dropped fly balls and the ones that are apparent to the fans and the media are there, but there are so many mistakes that aren't apparent that we're making,” Golloway said. “We're just not going to make them anymore. Those days are over. History. Starting this day forward we're not going to make them."
Golloway, who spread optimism before the season, said Tuesday he found more trouble than he expected.
“I had no idea how many things were broken when I took the job,” Golloway said. “I had no idea. I’m learning the hard way, I will tell you that. … Is the program going to change Golloway or is Golloway going to change the program? That's really where I am right now. That's the crossroads I'm at. I've done some uncharacteristic things trying to make sure the culture changes.
“Frustrated. Frustrated beyond frustration, and I'm still able to put a smile on my face and go to work every day because I'm blessed to be a baseball coach at a great university. But I'm frustrated. I'm not going to let the program change me. I'm going to change the program.”
With those thoughts in mind, Golloway will return freshman Keegan Thompson (5-2, 1.72 ERA) to a starting role on Saturday. Thompson pitched in relief last weekend at Alabama, getting a save in Friday’s 2-1 Auburn victory and taking the loss in Alabama’s 5-4 win in 10 innings Sunday. Dillon Ortman will get the start Friday and Trey Wingenter on Sunday.
Golloway also will return to the third-base coaching box and says he shouldn’t have ever left.
“At Alabama we had the bases loaded, we scored three runs on Sunday and we get thrown out at the base twice, in the same inning,” Golloway said. “We score three runs, we were thrown out at the plate and one time we were thrown out with no outs, and we're thrown out by 10 or 15 feet. We're rounding third and I'm yelling, 'No, no, no.' When he was right there halfway, he was out.”
Golloway started seven freshmen against Alabama on Sunday. Four seniors didn’t make the trip to Samford for unspecified violations of “team policy.” All will be available Friday, Golloway said.
“It's a minor thing,” Golloway said. “It's a violation of team policy with guys. I'm trying to change the culture around here, and if you're going to play baseball at Auburn you're going to recognize you're a student-athlete and the word student comes before athlete. Most of these guys are not going to make a living in major league baseball. They need to get their degree, and I'm going to make sure that I emphasize the right things as their coach.”
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: