McCord "Ready" If Called Upon For Opener

Auburn will face College of Charleston in the NCAA Regional opener in Tallahassee on Friday and senior Rocky McCord could get the call on the mound.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Sunny Golloway has said since he arrived at Auburn the goal isn’t to make a regional, but it’s to win and advance. To do that this weekend in Tallahassee in the NCAA Regional it may mean saving ace Cole Lipscomb until game two and rolling the dice in the opening game against College of Charleston.

A team that comes in hitting .309 as a team with 68 home runs and averaging over seven runs per game, College of Charleston can swing the bat to go along with a pitching staff that has an ERA of just 3.36 in 2015. Aggressive at the plate, the Cougars are led by Blake Butler’s .338 average and 12 home runs with his 62 RBI second on the team to Carl Wise’s total of 68. Facing a team that likes to swing away, Golloway said it may change Auburn’s thinking heading into the Friday morning opener.

“Love to jump on fastballs early, just the opposite of Florida State, which is very patient and looks for two or three walks an inning,” Golloway said. “College of Charleston doesn’t want to walk, they want to swing the bat. You want to have somebody that can spin it and do some things and make it tough on them. That’s the matchup.”

That could mean senior Rocky McCord getting the ball for Auburn instead of normal Friday night starter Cole Lipscomb. Auburn’s best breaking ball pitcher, McCord (5-4, 4.12 ERA) is a definite possibility for the Tigers and getting a win would allow them to have Lipscomb (8-2, 2.38) in a potential day two showdown with the host Seminoles.

“We’ve got some options to throw at them,” Golloway said. “We’re in a good situation of what we can do. We’re going to look at the film one more time. I have a pretty good gut feeling of what would match up the best. I have already talked, I felt like there were a couple of regionals we could get stuck in and I was on the phone until late last night with some pretty smart baseball guys that have played these teams, and if they were me what would they do? They’ve seen us play too to give you an idea without revealing the coach. We’ve got a pretty good gameplan about how we can go in there and win this thing.”

For McCord it would be the icing on the cake for a season when everything has come together for the senior. Pitching just two innings as a junior, McCord has become a key performer for the Tigers on the mound and he said if called upon he’ll be ready.

“If they need me to go I’ll go for them,” McCord said. “We’re going to go out there and attack College of Charleston as hard as we can. If Coach thinks it’s the best decision to start me over Cole, he’s been to the College World Series multiple times, him and (Tom) Holliday both. They know what they’re doing. I’ll be ready.”

The biggest question for Auburn this weekend is still the status of sophomore Keegan Thompson. Pitching just two innings for the Tigers since April 18 because of elbow discomfort, Thompson has been in contact with Dr. James Andrews several times and while it appears surgery could be in his future, he could still see some action in the regional in the right situation according to Golloway.

“He wants to throw the baseball,” Golloway said of Thompson. “He’s not sure how long he could go, but I tell you what, just like the first inning down at Florida, it’s two out of three strikeouts and coming ou 92 or 93. Even if it’s just one inning or two innings or whatever it ends up being, it’s going to be plus-innings. Any plus-innings at this point is really good for your club, plus the mentality when he walks to the mound, how our guys feel. That’s always a plus.”

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