Auburn 6, Brown 3: Rocky McCord leads Tigers to sweep

Auburn coach John Pawlowski out to the mound in sixth inning vs Eastern Illinois from Friday, March 1. - Todd Van Emst

With immaculate weather providing the backdrop at Plainsman Park Rocky McCord went into the seventh inning helping Auburn improve to 12-3, their best start to a season since jumping out to 13-2 in 2007.

Auburn got another dazzling performance from its starting pitcher and production from throughout the lineup to easily put Brown away 6-3 and get a sweep for the second time this season.

Rocky McCord was tapped by coach John Pawlowski to follow Michael O'Neal's shutout and got off to a bit of a rough start. Two singles sandwiched an early strikeout in the first but then McCord got his curveball working and benefited from some free swinging Ivy League hitters. A double play groundball ended the first and then McCord didn't allow a hit until the fifth. Only one runner between the first and fifth reached base and it was a hit batter who was thrown out by Blake Austin. Austin has now thrown out 25 runners in his Auburn career.

McCord didn't face any serious trouble until the seventh when Brown loaded the bases and then was pulled with two outs in favor of Reid Carter. His eight strikeouts is a new career high for McCord who moved to 2-0 on the year.

A bit of a wild ninth saw Justin Camp come on in relief to help mop up after Carter let his first two batters single. Camp allowed both inherited runners to score, but settled down and eventually mopped up the game with two runners left on as he got a backwards K to end any threat of an Eastern Illinois-like bullpen meltdown.

On the offensive side of the team, Ryan Tella and Patrick Savage each had two RBIs and Jordan Ebert got another single to extend his hitting streak to thirteen games. Auburn only had six hits on the day, easing the double-digit hit tear that the side had been on recently, but still made no major mistakes to leave too many runners on or get baserunners thrown out where they shouldn't be.

The Tigers can't take too much away from a series against a middle of the road Ivy League squad, but can still be happy with the way the pitchers fought deep into games and the fielding showed a definite improvement in the should-be-elementary aspect of picking up and throwing grounded balls. Auburn stole a few bases and got good production from players low in the lineup like Ebert and Austin. There were still (to my math-colored glasses) some odd bunt attempts with big bats at the plate and multiple runners on that may have cost a few runs with the lower-level pitching of Brown, but nonetheless it is obviously always a plus to end a weekend at 3-0.

A rematch with Kennesaw State in Atlanta is up next at 5 pm on Tuesday, before one of the top teams in the country, Vanderbilt, comes to the Plains on Friday.

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