AUBURN — In another weekend filled with drama, the Auburn Tigers finally got another SEC weekend series win, taking down Mississippi State with wins on Friday (2-1) and on Sunday (12-11). Auburn dropped Saturday's game when a ferocious comeback fell one run short, 11-10.
Friday's win was Auburn's lowest-scoring home game since the opening series vs. Indiana, as the Tigers' pitching staff put together a near shutout, holding the Bulldogs to just four hits and securing 14 strikeouts.
“We're pitching a little better. It started last weekend,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “This gives us a chance. If we can pitch competitively, that defense is ready to play. We pitched with better sequences and took the sting out of the swing.”
Tommy Vail got the start for Auburn with five innings and 10 strikeouts, but he gave up an RBI-single to David Mershon in the fifth, allowing MSU to tie the game. Vail was relieved by John Armstrong for 1.2 innings, before Tanner Bauman and Will Cannon delivered 2.1 combined scoreless innings, with Bauman getting the win and Cannon getting his fourth save of the year.
Saturday's contest was the polar opposite as Auburn took an early two-run lead in the second inning thanks to a Copper McMurray two-run homer and then both teams traded scoreless innings until MSU sent six home in the sixth and held the lead for the remainder of the game.
Auburn's defense fell apart at that point, giving up three more runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth to give MSU an 11-3 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Auburn roared back in the final frame with seven runs, four of which came from a Kason Howell solo home run and a three RBI-triple, but Aaron Nick secured the final out and the win for the Bulldogs.
“We just had lock-down and committed at-bats,” Thompson added. “We got their best closer, and Kason's big swing and a couple of those were really good at-bats. It was a pretty tall order, but pretty impressive to see our guys fight to finish the ballgame."
The high-scoring continued into Sunday, with Mississippi State scoring seven runs through the first three innings. Auburn began to chip away, with four home runs, including two from McMurray. MSU kept responding before the Tigers finally took the lead in the bottom of the eighth with a three-run homer from Bryson Ware, but then Merhson reached on an error, and the game was tied going into the bottom of the ninth.
Cole Foster delivered his only hit of the day, an RBI-double, giving Auburn the win on Sunday and the series as a whole.
“Throughout the game, I was trying to shorten up and have the shortest swing on a big pitch,” Foster said. “That’s what I finally ended up doing. I was sitting offspeed because that pitcher throws a lot of offspeed and then I realized I haven’t hit a fastball all weekend, why wouldn’t he throw me that? So I shortened up, got my hands through, got a barrel to the ball, and I was happy with what happened. I’m glad we got the win.”
Auburn continues its nonconference schedule on Tuesday with a home matchup against Troy. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. CST.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.