Rocky Provides Pitching Punch In Auburn Win

With Rocky McCord making a strong start, Auburn cruised to an 8-2 baseball victory on Sunday.

Auburn, Ala.--Rocky McCord came into series finale vs. Eastern Illinois struggling on the mound, but on Sunday the sophomore right-hander pitched six scoreless innings as the Auburn Tigers cruised to an 8-2 baseball victory.

The sophomore pitcher allowed just three hits, a major turnaround from his previous two starts this season when he gave up six runs on 10 hits and four walks in five and one-third innings of action.

"It seemed like I had a five inning curse--I couldn't get past the fifth inning," said McCord, who noted he was excited about picking up his first victory of the season. "I didn't have my best stuff, but the defense played good and I finally got a win."

Asked what he did well vs. the Panthers, McCord said, "Coach worked with me on attacking the zone and I was coming right at them. I tried to throw it right down the middle and let it move, let them hit it, and it worked out."

McCord struck out six batters and walked three as he threw 93 pitches, dropping his earned run from 9.53 to 4.63 in the process.

Coach John Pawlowski said it was good to see McCord have a solid outing to bolster the starting rotation. "I think it is very important for us to be able to do the things we want to do," he said. "Rocky certainly has the ability to go out there.

"He just has to continue to refine his skills," Pawlowski added. "I thought he did a good job getting deeper into the game. It is important to him, but obviously very important to our club and what we are trying to do."

The Tigers bounced back from an ugly 11-10 loss on Friday night to take the series 2-1 and improve their record to 8-3. Eastern Illinois, which travels to Nashville to play Vandy on Tuesday, dropped to 3-7.

The game was scoreless until the fourth inning when Damek Tomscha doubled down the line in left to score Ryan Tella, who led off the inning with a single.

After a pop up for out one by Cullen Wacker, the Tigers loaded the bases on a walk to Garrett Cooper and an error on the shortstop on a ball hit by Kody Ortman.

However, the Panthers got out of the inning without further damage when catcher Blake Austin grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.

In the fifth the Tigers got a leadoff single from Jordan Ebert followed by a walk to Jackson Burgreen. Dan Glevenyak then just missed a home run off the top of the Green Monster in left, but the play ended up being just a single loading the bases.

That prompted a pitching change for the Panthers, who brought in lefty Ben Kennedy to face Tella, who made the score 2-0 with a line drive to left field that was deep enough to be a sacrifice fly.

After an infield fly on a misplayed, wind-blown popup for the second out hit Tomscha, Wacker walked to load the bases. The Panthers then gave the Tigers a third run on an error by the shortstop and a fourth run on a bases loaded walk.

The Tigers added three more runs in the sixth inning. Ebert, who has hit safely in all nine games, started the inning with a line drive single to left center and fellow freshman Burgreen singled to center.

The Panthers brought in right-handed, side-arm pitcher George Kalousek, but he couldn't stop the Tigers from scoring three more runs. Garrett Cooper had the big hit in the inning, a single to right that scored two runs.

The Tigers added another run in the seventh inning on doubles by Blake Austin and Dan Glevenyak.

Trey Cochran-Gill pitched two innings of scoreless relief. In the ninth inning Chase Williamson gave up three hits and Matt Schulz allowed another hit as the Tigers gave up two runs to ruin the shutout.

Glevenyak, Cooper and Ebert each had two hits to lead the Tigers at the plate. Ebert leads the Tigers in batting average at .424. He has played in nine games and has hit safely in every outing.

"We feel we have a very good corps of freshmen baseball players here and he is one of them," Pawlowski said of Ebert. "He has been very fortunate he has gotten an early opportunity and he has taken advantage of it. He is very confident in his ability offensively and he loves to play the game."

Ebert, who is from Foley, pointed out that he is enjoying himself early in his freshman season. "I am just soaking it in now and trying to help this team win games," he said. "It is a fun way to start off my career here."

The Tigers return to action on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery where they will play Alabama in the Capital City Classic. The Tigers have won the previous four games vs. the Tide at event.

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