“It was just about Cole being more efficient,” Golloway said of what he saw from his starting pitcher. “I thought the lead really helped him to fill the zone and not fear contact so much. You’ve got to remember that the other teams are so talented. Even though we shut them out today we know they have a talented lineup and played in the championship just two years ago. They’ve got guys that have been there and done that.
“The best thing about it is I see our team getting better,” he added. “They are buying in to some of the small-ball and some of the hit-and-run. Then all of the sudden D-Rob hits a big one down the line for us. They are doing a good job of what we need to do to be successful. Don’t worry about what other teams do, let’s do what we need to do.”
Friday night’s win over Mississippi State was the first road shutout in SEC play for Auburn since 2007 and the first shutout for the Tigers in Starkville since 1976. The win improves the Tigers to 16-10 overall and 2-5 in SEC play while the Bulldogs fall to 18-10, 2-5 in league action.
Making just his third start of the season and first in SEC play, Lipscomb was dominant from start to finish in picking up his fourth win of the year. With his ERA down to just 1.71 following the performance, Lipscomb said getting some early runs really helped him settle in and just pitch on a tough weather night.
The shutout was the second consecutive for Mississippi State, the first time that’s happened since 2011. Getting just four total hits, the Bulldogs never had a runner reach third base in the loss, something Golloway said is just a testament to the work of Lipscomb and reliever Trey Wingenter, who pitched the final two innings of relief.
“I was a little nervous in the first with it being my first SEC start,” Lipscomb said. “We did a great job of coming out there and jumping on them early. That really helped settle me down and after that it was all about me trying to throw strikes and let our defense work. It was a solid team win tonight.”
Daniel Robert had a huge two-run double for the Tigers
Struggling offensively in SEC play through the first two weekends against a pair of talented pitching staffs in Texas A&M and Vanderbilt, Auburn wasted no time getting going on a cold Friday night at Dudy Noble Field. In the second inning Blake Logan walked to lead off the inning and moved around to third on a pair of groundouts when shortstop Cody Nulph stepped to the plate.
Entering the weekend with just two hits in 26 at-bats in SEC play (.077 average), Nulph got a pitch to handle and ripped it by MSU third baseman Matt Spruill for the single. Logan scored on the play to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead and signal what was to be a bad night for Spruill.
In the third Auburn jumped all over Mississippi State starter Preston Brown as Anfernee Grier reached on an infield single and moved to second on a Damon Haecker walk to bring Jordan Ebert to the plate. Putting on a hit and run to try to stay out of the double play, the Tigers got a break when Spruill’s throw from third pulled Wes Rea off first for the error.
With the bases loaded and nobody out Robert lifted a fly ball to left field that Cody Brown circled and dove for. Fortunately for Auburn his dive came up short, allowing two runs to score and Robert to coast into second for a double.
“I just tried to swing the barrel early,” Robert said. “Coach Golloway does a good job of getting our minds right. I was more happy that I put a ball in the air that we could score on, fortunately it fell. Then we had a couple more breaks go our way that frankly haven’t been going our way lately. That was good to see.”
Logan then hit a ground ball that went right through the legs of Spruill for another error, allowing Ebert to score for the four-run lead. Melvin Gray finished off the scoring by executing a perfect squeeze bunt and just like that the Tigers were up 5-0.
That’s all the Tigers would need and it’s a good thing as Brown allowed just three Auburn hits the rest of the way in pitching a complete game for Mississippi State. On a night when he was hurt by his defense, Brown was more than solid on the mound, but it was going to take more than solid on this night to be Lipscomb and the Tigers.
“Cole coming into Friday night I don’t know if anybody knew how he could accept that role,” Robert said. “We know he’s been great out of the bullpen, but it’s promising to see Cole coming into that role and dominating tonight.”
Auburn will go for the series win on Saturday at 2 p.m. with sophomore Keegan Thompson the mound for the Tigers. The game can be seen on SEC Network Plus.