With the loss Auburn falls to 25-22 overall and 9-15 in SEC play. The Tigers also fall one-half game behind Georgia for 12th place in the league standings and find themselves on the outside looking in for the SEC Tournament in Hoover. Mississippi State improved to 31-18 overall and 14-10 in league play with the win.
"It's a huge blow to any opportunity that we had," Golloway said. "We were hanging on by a thread. We let so many games get away from us early in the year when I thought we were playing well. We found a rallying point at Fayetteville (Arkansas) and played really good on the road in a tough environment. To come in here this weekend and not get a game, I don't even know what word is for it, it's a huge blow for us no doubt about it."
Golloway might not know what what the word is for the weekend, but senior catcher Blake Austin had a few choice words for what he thought about the Tigers' performance. Nearing the end of his career on the Plains and wanting desperately to make it to the postseason for the first time, he said scoring just one run in three games and being swept at home is tough to deal with.
"It stings," Austin said. "It's something I don't like commenting on. It just sucks as a senior when it doesn't go the way you want it to go. You try to do everything you can and it just sucks when it doesn't happen.
"Balls are going to fall and balls aren't going to fall," he added. "They are the number one defense for a reason. It's the at-bats that we didn't take and the at-bats that we threw away. You've got to put solid contact on every ball or walk or get hit or do something. It starts with me because I didn't do it at all this weekend."
Daniel Robert races back to the dugout following his home run, the only run of the game for the Tigers.
With an offense that has struggled to do anything all weekend the Tigers didn't need to fall behind early, but that was exactly the case on Sunday. In the second inning Gavin Collins led things off by launching a ball over the right field wall for a solo home run. It was his first of the season and the third of the weekend for Mississippi State, a team that had just nine all season entering the weekend.
In the fourth the Bulldogs added to their lead as Collins singled to start the inning before Reid Humphreys followed suit with a single of his own to put O'Neal in trouble. Following a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position, Wes Rea lifted a fly ball to left field to easily score Collins. A walk to Derrick Armstrong brought number nine hitter Matthew Britton to the plate and the Cullman native delivered a single to left field to push the lead to three for the Bulldogs.
Auburn finally got a chance to break through offensively in the sixth when Brandon Woodruff replaced Brown on the mound. Following a leadoff single from Jackson Burgreen, Mississippi State went to the bullpen for standout Jacob Lindgren on a 2-2 count facing Sam Gillikin. Despite the count Golloway brought leading hitter Jordan Ebert off the bench, but he popped up for the first out.
Losing control, Lindgren hit Damon Haecker with a pitch and walked Damek Tomscha to load the bases for Auburn with just one out. With a chance to tie the game or take the lead, the Tigers instead left the bases loaded as Blake Austin struck out and Keegan Thompson popped out to end the threat.
That was all the momentum Mississippi State needed as the Bulldogs proceeded to break the game open in the seventh, adding eight runs on nine hits to push the lead out to 11-0. Auburn finally got on the board for the weekend in the bottom of the seventh on a solo home run by freshman Daniel Robert, but by then it was much too little and very much too late.
"There is hope," Austin said. "You go play at Kentucky and play LSU here. Who knows after that. You win the SEC Tournament and you're in the NCAA Regionals. That's the way we have to go and that's the way we're going to have to do it."
By The Numbers:
Despite having a six-game hitting streak entering Sunday's game (7-23), Jordan Ebert was not in the Auburn lineup. His replacement, lefty Jackson Burgreen, had one of Auburn's four hits on the day.
Golloway said they wanted to get a lefty-righty match-up versus the Bulldogs and they wanted to give Ebert a break because he had been struggling. Over the last six games Ebert was hitting .304. Over that same stretch the team was hitting .197. Taking Ebert's hits out of the equation the batting average over that six-game stretch was .182.
When asked about Ebert's absence in the lineup on Sunday, Golloway had this to say.
"We just decided to go with the left-hander today," Golloway said. "Even though you look and you say 'that's the leading hitter', when you look at his numbers he has really cooled off here lately. He is dealing with some things as far as adjustments at the plate, it just seems like he's taking an awful lot of pitches and slicing balls the other way.
"We try to see what we see and look at our last five games and our last 10 games," he added. "We just felt like the left versus right was better for us today to go with the left-handed hitting outfield. We were clearly at a point after two days, we were 20-plus innings of not scoring a run. You can't be afraid to shake it up a little bit. That leading hitter has been in there the whole time and we still have not been able to score runs. There is no reason to leave it alone. You need to try to shake it up a little bit. We tried to shake it up a little bit. Did it work? No. Clearly it didn't work."
The Tigers will return to action Tuesday night at 6 p.m. when they take on Bethune-Cookman at Plainsman Park.