ATLANTA – Auburn (36-25) advanced to its second-straight Super Regional for the first time in program history after defeating Georgia Tech (43-19) 4-1 Sunday night. The Tigers swept the Atlanta Regional, defeating the No. 3 national seed Yellow Jackets in back-to-back days.
“This has probably been the most special weekend for me, personally and professionally, with this group of young men,” Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said. “Our hearts are still really sad, but I think we made a commitment for this entire series. I’d 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.”
For the first five innings, including approximately a two-hour rain delay in the middle of the fourth inning, the game would remain scoreless. Needing some run support for left-handed pitcher Bailey Horn, who received the start for the Tigers, Auburn scored three runs in the sixth inning off of RBIs from Rankin Woley and Stephen Williams.
Williams was named the Atlanta Regional Most Valuable Player after going 6-13 with 10 RBIs and two home runs during the weekend.
Horn entered the game with a 7.56 ERA. Despite the rain delay, he produced a quality start for the depleted Auburn pitching staff, throwing six scoreless innings and only allowing two hits. Horn was credited with the win, improving his record to 4-0.
“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.”
Cody Greenhill started the seventh inning to relieve Horn and to get the last nine outs for the Tigers. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Georgia Tech’s Tristin English hit a solo home run to bring the Yellow Jackets back into the game. English went 11-14 with 8 RBIs in the regional. Auburn got the run back in the ninth on an RBI single from Ryan Bliss.
Greenhill bounced back from the home run and claimed the last seven outs to earn his 11th save of the year and propel Auburn to the next round of the NCAA Tournament.
“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 play No. 14 national seed North Carolina in Chapel Hill in the next round. Start times are still to be determined.