Tigers Swept By Mississippi State

Auburn falls to 2-4 in SEC play after being swept by Mississippi State.

Starkville, Miss--Mississippi State (18-6, 4-2) scored four runs in the fifth inning and used a strong pitching performance from starter Nick Routt and reliever Daryl Norris to shut down the Auburn Tigers 5-0 on Sunday and complete a sweep of coach John Pawlowski's club. Dominating the weekend following a close game on Friday, the Bulldogs made plays and the Tigers (14-10, 2-4) didn't said Pawlowski.

"It was just a frustrating weekend," Pawlowski said. "I know our team is very disappointed. We were outplayed this weekend. Give Mississippi State credit. They did a good job. It seemed like when they had guys in scoring position they came up with the big hit. They came up with the big hit today.

"We didn't have many chances offensively. I think we only had one leadoff guy on base. It's certainly not the start or the weekend we wanted. This conference is tough. We know that. The guys are going to have to regroup and we have to find a way to get better."

Finishing with just four hits, two by designated hitter Dan Gamache, Auburn struggled to find any kind of offensive rhythm and in turn starter Derek Varnadore got little help. Allowing four earned runs on eight hits in five innings, the junior pitched the first four scoreless before falling apart in the fifth.

"I thought he did a good job," Pawlowski said. "It's tough when our offense is not going. We felt like we had to get something going. Made maybe one pitch he would like to have back but still I thought he gave us a chance to win. That's what we ask of our guys."

With both pitchers dominating early the game remained scoreless until the fifth when the Bulldogs finally got on the board thanks to fundamental play. Leading off the inning, Jonathan Ogden reached on a bunt single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Wes Thigpen then continued his big weekend with a single to center field to break up Varnadore's shutout. Jaron Shepherd then singled to right field and a Justin Fradejas error allowed the runners to move to second and third with nobody out.

After recovering to strike out the next hitter, Varnadore walked Ryan Collins to face Jarrod Parks with the bases loaded. Getting a 2-2 pitch to hit the Bulldogs continued their two-out ways as Parks singled to center field to score two runs and make it 3-0 Mississippi State. Getting behind to Cody Freeman spelled trouble for Varnadore as a single to left field made it a four run lead for the Bulldogs.

The three runs scoring with two outs in the bottom of the fifth made it 23 of the 26 runs for the weekend for Mississippi State that had scored with two outs. Almost an impossible number to overcome for the Tigers with the offense in the doldrums.

Following another two-out run for the Bulldogs in the sixth, Auburn doubled its hit total to four with a pair of hits in the top of the seventh off Norris but couldn't put any runs on the board. With just four hits on the day and trailing by five runs the Tigers couldn't do anything offensively down the stretch as they were swept in Starkville for the second time in the last three visits.

Auburn will face Troy at home on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. before taking on the Vanderbilt Commodores in a three-game series at Plainsman Park next weekend.

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