College Baseball: Auburn takes down No. 6 Georgia Tech for regional championship
Williams earns regional MVP honors
Auburn's baseball team won the Atlanta Regional on Sunday night, beating Georgia Tech 4-1 for the title. The Tigers play at North Carolina in the Super Regional this weekend.
Photo courtesy Auburn Athletics
ATLANTA – Behind arguably its best all-around effort of the season, Auburn defeated Georgia Tech, 4-1, to win the Atlanta Regional Sunday night at Russ Chandler Stadium.
The regional championship is the Tigers second straight and seventh all-time, marking the first time in program history the team has won back-to-back regional titles.
"This has probably been the most special weekend for me, personally and professionally, with this group of young men," head coach Butch Thompson said. The team is playing in honor of Auburn broadcaster Rod Bramblett who died in a car accident in Auburn on May 25. "Our hearts are still really sad, but I think we made a commitment for this entire series. I could see it in our guys whenever our backs were against the wall. Some plays were made, some swings were made that affected the outcome."
One night after his walk-off, three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Steven Williams drove in two with a sixth inning double, giving him 10 RBI in the regional.
Williams finished the regional 6-for-13 with three runs, one double and two home runs en route to being named the Atlanta Regional Most Valuable Player.
"That was probably the most complete game we've played all year," Williams said. "Bailey (Horn) came out with a lot of energy and pounded the zone and got a lot of outs. Our offense had quality at-bats throughout the whole game, and that late insurance run was huge. I think we can really build off this."
Picking up where he left off in the SEC Tournament, Auburn starter Bailey Horn (4-0, 6.10) pitched 6.0 scoreless innings while striking out four en route to the win. The sophomore southpaw went back to the rubber following a two-hour weather delay and faced the minimum in his final 3.0 innings.
"I knew I wanted to go back out," Horn said. "I had talked to Coach Thompson and Coach Smith about going back out there. I never thought I was going to be out of the game. I knew there was work that still needed to be done and that we still had a lot of game to play."
Horn retired Georgia Tech's first seven batters of the game and faced one over the minimum, allowing only two hits and issuing one walk while benefiting from a pair of double plays.
Rankin Woley stepped to the plate with one out and two on in the top of the sixth and started the scoring in the contest with a single to center that scored Will Holland. Williams followed with a two-run double down the left field line that scored Edouard Julien and Woley to make it 3-0.
Georgia Tech put its leadoff man aboard in the home half of the frame, but with a runner straying from first, Judd Ward caught a fly ball in left field and unleashed a powerful throw that traveled more than 300 feet to Woley at first for a double play.
Cody Greenhill took over for Horn in the bottom of the seventh, striking out the first two Yellow Jackets he faced before Tech's Tristin English hit a solo home run to make it a 3-1 ballgame.
In the eighth, Greenhill again struck out Tech's first two batters, retiring the third on a fly to out to right.
Auburn added an insurance run in the top of the ninth. With first base open, Tech intentionally walked Ward to face Ryan Bliss, who made the home team pay by singling up the middle to plate Kason Howell.
Greenhill set down the Yellow Jackets in the bottom of the ninth to earn his 11th save and send the Tigers to the super regional round. Ward again displaying his defensive prowess on a running catch of Nick Wilhite's fly to deep left to start the frame.
"Last year, we were expecting a regional (championship)," Greenhill said. "This year, these guys, we've had to work for everything we've got. We weren't picked to win this tournament. We'll get back in on Monday and Tuesday, refocus, and we know we've got a good ball club in North Carolina waiting. We'll come out and bring it."
Auburn will advance to take on North Carolina in the Chapel Hill Super Regional this weekend.
Atlanta Regional All-Tournament Team
P: Bailey Horn, Auburn
P: Richard Fitts, Auburn
C: Kyle McCann, Georgia Tech
1B: Tristin English, Georgia Tech
2B: Ryan Bliss, Auburn
3B: Edouard Julien, Auburn
SS: Luke Waddell, Georgia Tech
LF: Judd Ward, Auburn
CF: Nick Wilhite, Georgia Tech
RF: Steven Williams, Auburn*
DH: Jake Wright, Coastal Carolina
*Denote Most Valuable Player