Pensacola, Fla.--Coming off an extra-inning loss to Troy on Friday night, Auburn Tigers got a quality start from true freshman Casey Mize on the mound Saturday but it wasn’t enough to overcome a stagnant offense as the Tiger fell 3-0 to Michigan State. Allowing just two runs on seven hits in seven innings and striking out eight in his first career start, Mize gave Auburn (6-5) a chance to win and that was a big positive said Coach Butch Thompson.
“I was so pleased with Casey Mize,” Thompson said. “Getting seven innings in his first start and its on the road against good competition. Their four-hole guy hit a home run off of him in the first at-bat off a fastball. In the second at-bat a change up for a double. In the third at-bat, I said ‘that’s going to to tell us a lot about Casey’ and he got him to go to the other side and fly out to left.
“I’m tickled to death for another freshman Jonathan Foster to handle him and for that to be the battery,” he added. “The pitching the two days has held up pretty good. I thought our guys really competed on the mound. Short turn around or what have you. I give credit to Michigan State’s pitcher. We didn’t get to our fastballs and the balls that we did hit hard, then they were right there. If you had told me we would have scored three runs in two days after the way we have played offense in the early part of the season I would be surprised. I guess I am after two days of the tournament. Hopefully, Cole Lipscomb can give us a chance to get out of here with a victory and come out and get us off to a good start tomorrow.”
Mize’s pitching wasn’t enough for the Tigers because of the performance of Michigan State starter Ethan Landon. Giving up just four hits in six innings, he turned things over to Alex Troop and his two scoreless innings added to the damage he had already done at the plate on Saturday. Leading off the second inning, Troop’s solo home run proved to be enough for the Spartans to get a win, but he added to the lead an inning later with an RBI double to make it 2-0 Michigan State. A ninth inning double by John Hovis off Izaac Yarbrough finished off the scoring for the Spartans and that was easily enough on this day to get the job done.
Managing just four hits on the day with the only extra-base hit a double off the bat of Melvin Gray, Auburn only threatened a handful of times on Saturday. In the second inning Jackson Burgreen walked and a one-out single by Damon Haecker put the Tigers in business, but Foster struck out looking and a Gray fly ball put an end to the threat.
Auburn’s last real opportunity came in the seventh when Gray reached on a fielder’s choice and a walk to Anfernee Grier put two on with two out for the Tigers. With an opportunity to put the Tigers on the scoreboard Josh Palacios struck out to end the inning.
The Tigers return to action on Sunday at 3 p.m. when they take on Southern Miss in the final game of the Cox Diamond Invitational. Cole Lipscomb gets the start for Auburn on the mound.