MAX Capital City Classic 2017
The 9th Annual MAX Capital City Classic was held in Montgomery at Riverwalk Stadium on March 28, 2017. The Auburn Tigers faced the Alabama Crimson Tide on the diamond, reigniting college athletics greatest inner-state rivalry with one of the SEC’s biggest sporting events of the year.
Auburn continued its dominance in the MAX Capital City Classic series with an edge-of-seat win over Alabama, clinching the 4-3 victory with a series of athletic defensive plays in the final innings.
This year’s event shattered previous attendance records. More than 7,605 fans packed the home of the Biscuits – leaving standing room only. The Montgomery Biscuit confirmed that the 7,605 fans were the largest crowd in Riverwalk Stadium’s baseball history!
Auburn’s infielder Jay Estes played comfortably at second base, despite playing in the outfield as needed for the Tigers in this game and throughout the season. Estes was the star of two late-inning defensive highlights that helped Auburn maintain their lead with Alabama threatening to score. In the eighth, Estes backhanded a driving ground ball and flipped it to shortstop Will Holland at second for a force out.
“We just had to get that done,” said Estes, who started in left field before switching to second just in time to make the play. “I just dove up the middle and kind of flipped. It was just one of those plays.”
The press voted Estes as MVP of the 9th MAX Capital City Classic for his defensive efforts, clinching the win.
“It’s just a huge honor to receive this award,” Estes said.
Auburn took the early lead, scoring three runs in the third inning. Alabama came back with single tallies in the third, fourth and fifth frames to tie the game at three runs for each squad. One run in the top of the sixth by the Tigers ended up being the deciding score.
Three Auburn bullpen arms combined to throw 4.2 innings without an earned run from Alabama. Auburn starter Christian Camacho was lifted with one out in the fourth inning. The Tigers relied on relievers Corey Herndon, Ryan Watson and Andrew Mitchell the rest of the game. They combined to shutdown Alabama and allow just one hit the rest of the way.
"I thought we came up just short tonight," said Alabama head coach Greg Goff. "We had guys in scoring position and we hit into a double play one time. We just need to play with a little more heart, a little more grit and a little more dirtiness to get those type of hits when we need them. Our guys need to bring a little more to table every day, and I need to do a better job coaching them up to help us gets wins in games like this."
Auburn’s coach, Butch Thompson, credited his team’s defense with the victory.
“That was huge,” Thompson said. “For Jay to dive… all of these little plays by inches were the difference in the ballgame tonight.”
This year’s victory gives the Tigers three wins in a row in the event. This year’s defensive showdown was a stark contrast from last year. Auburn's 10-run performance set a MAX Capital City Classic record in 2016. The Tigers now have a 8-1 record in the game.
“We just have really good team chemistry,” Estes said. “We really fight to the end. And we really just get it done.”