AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -Josh Hancock's death saddened his former coaches at Auburn where he was a key member of the 1997 team that advanced to the College World Series.
Hancock, a reliever who helped the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series last season, was killed in a car crash early Sunday. He went 2-0 with a 4.75 ERA in 13 appearances for Auburn in 1997, striking out 32 in 30 1-3 innings.
``I was deeply saddened by the tragic news of the loss of Josh Hancock,'' said former Auburn coach Hal Baird, who coached Hancock. ``He was a very special talent.''
St. Louis police said the 29-year-old Hancock was alone in his 2007 Ford Explorer when he struck the rear of a tow truck at 12:35 a.m. Sunday. The truck was in the left lane assisting another vehicle that was involved in a prior accident, officer Pete Mutter said.
Hancock, who was born in Cleveland, Miss., attended Vestavia Hills High School in suburban Birmingham.
Baird said he saw Hancock during spring training last year with the Cardinals.
``He was in great spirits and it was obvious that his career was really on the upturn,'' Baird said Sunday. ``It's a terrible loss for Josh and his family and the Auburn baseball family. My thoughts and prayers go out to them in this difficult time.''
Current Auburn coach Tom Slater, who was an assistant when Hancock played for the Tigers, said Hancock was a part of ``arguably the best pitching staff and arguably the best team ever to play at Auburn.''
``The Auburn family is extremely saddened by the tragic loss of Josh Hancock,'' Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said. ``We extend our thoughts and prayers to the entire Hancock family.''

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