"Frustrated" Golloway Plans to Do It His Way

Auburn takes on South Carolina in a three-game SEC baseball series this weekend at Plainsman Park, but Coach Sunny Golloway says he is focused on the future of the program after being frustrated with his team's struggles so far this season.

Auburn, Ala.--With one of the most challenging series of the SEC baseball season coming up for the Auburn Tigers (21-17, 6-9) this weekend against South Carolina, Sunny Golloway said he is going back to his roots as a coach with his team in the midst of a streak of 10 losses in 14 games.

That means putting Keegan Thompson back on the mound as a starter after being put in the closer role last week.

Currently 5-2 on the year with a 1.72 ERA, Thompson closed Auburn's win over Alabama on Friday and pitched again out of the bullpen in a loss on Sunday.

Following Tuesday night's loss to Samford, Golloway said Thompson would again be in the bullpen for his team against the Gamecocks (28-9, 8-7). Two days later, however, he said things have changed after sitting down and rethinking his coaching style.

Keegan Thompson

"Saturday is the most important game, I have always said that," Golloway pointed out. "I think the middle game is the most important game. I think some of the things that I've got to do is that I've got to stay true to who I am and the way that I have done it in the past. I can't let the way we've lost games affect how you manage or coach a team. That's part of it.

"The middle game is important because if you win that game, you need a horse in there that's really going to put pressure on the other team to lose the series right then and there, which we did the first two weekends, or you've got to have somebody with the ability to get you even and get you to the rubber match. 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. I'm going to go back to those."

That means playing what he feels like is his best lineup at the moment regardless of classification. Starting seven freshmen in the field each of the last two games with Brett Binning at second base for Dan Glevenyak and Blake Logan behind the plate for Blake Austin, Golloway said it‘s not about a youth movement, but more about trying to win games.

"We felt Binning is playing the best, getting the most hits, so it really wasn't a youth movement, it was the best team we could put on the field at that particular time and that's what we're going to continue to do that," Golloway said. "Our guys understand that. We still think we can get to the NCAA Tournament. Our margin of error, that window is small, it's barely cracked open. I realize that."

With a continued problem getting runners thrown out on the bases (24 in 15 SEC games), Golloway said he'll be back on the field coaching third this week, but the Tigers will continue to play the game he wants. Several of the players caught stealing have been thrown out on attempted hit-and-run plays, something Golloway said is not acceptable. "We're not very good at making contact with hit-and-run, we're going to get better because it's going to be demanded of our players in the future and it hasn't been in the past."

Demanding is the word for the future and present of Auburn baseball under Golloway. With the opportunity to get back in the SEC race this weekend against a stumbling South Carolina team, the first-year coach is focused on the health of the program as a whole at the moment.

"I had no idea how many things were broken when I took the job," Golloway said. "I had no idea and I'm learning the hard way, I will tell you that. You can print this: is the program going to change Golloway or is Golloway going to change the program? That's really where I'm at 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."

Auburn will take on South Carolina in a three-game series at Plainsman Park this weekend. Game times are 6 p.m. CDT on Friday, 4 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Saturday's game is a sellout.

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