Auburn, Ala.--Mississippi State starting pitcher Dakota Hudson is projected to be a first round selection in this summer’s Major League Baseball Draft and on Friday night he showed why, allowing just six hits in a complete game 4-0 win over the Auburn Tigers. With the loss Auburn falls to 22-28 overall and 8-17 in SEC play while the No. 3 Bulldogs move to 35-14-1, 16-9 in league action.
Auburn first baseman Niko Buentello had a pair of singles to lead the Tigers, but the story of the night was Hudson. A player who Coach Butch Thompson is very familiar with after recruiting him to Mississippi State, Hudson was dominant from start to finish.
“I thought (Hudson) was on and I thought it was a tough at-bat for a right-handed hitter,” Thompson said. “Our guys see 93, 94, but what our guys don’t see is a right-handed cutter/slider at 88-90.
“We had some decent left-handed at-bats against him but every time we hit a ball hard, they caught it. I thought that was a huge difference in the ball game.”
While he only allowed one earned run in five and two/third innings of work, Auburn starter Cole Lipscomb was hit hard all night long by an impressive Mississippi State lineup, but battled for the Tigers.. Giving up 10 hits and striking out just one while allowing four total runs, Lipscomb took the loss to fall to 2-4 on the season.
Coming out of the bullpen, Ben Braymer allowed just one hit in three and one/third innings, but it was too little and too late for the Tigers on this night.
“I want to compliment Lipscomb and Braymer for how they competed tonight,” Thompson said. “Braymer hopefully saves us an arm or two and that was huge for him to finish the ballgame.
“Not being at 100 percent there were a couple of times you have two strikes and just can’t finish it,” he added of Lipscomb. “Maybe when you’re 100 percent the slider goes right to the floor, but it hangs up a little bit when you’re not 100 percent. I do appreciate him battling. I thought he did all he could tonight with what he had and that’s why I respect the outing.”
Back in the lineup for the first time since being injured on April 7, Josh Palacios was 1-4 on the night and hit the ball hard twice against one of the best pitchers in the SEC. Thompson said even though his return didn’t translate into any runs for the Tigers it was good to get Palacios back on the field.
Joshua Palacios is in his first season with the Tigers.
“I think it’s a lift for our players,” Thompson said. “I think it’s so neat how our fans acknowledged him being back. I think it makes our whole culture feel better with having him in the lineup. It’s pretty impressive for him to step up there and put the ball in play hard twice like he did. We’ve had some tee work and some short toss, but to really get in the game and I give him a tough draw his first start back. I tip my hat to him. He’s a special player and a special hitter and that was really special to see from Palacios.”
It didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to take control of Friday night’s game with Hudson rolling on the mound. In the top of the third Lipscomb retired the first two Mississippi State hitters before giving up a solo shot to Jack Kruger. With the shutout now gone Lipscomb didn’t get any help from his defense as Cody Nulph misplayed a ground ball for an error to keep the inning alive for the Bulldogs.
Gavin Collins followed the error with a single to bring Brent Rooker to the plate with a chance to do some damage. Getting a pitch to turn on, Rooker blasted a ground-rule double over the wall in right field to make it 2-0 Bulldogs. When Reid Humphreys singled through the left side to score Rooker it was three runs with two outs for Mississippi State. If not for a great throw by Jackson Burgreen it would have been four, but he threw out a runner at the plate to end the inning for the Tigers.
That was all Hudson would need.
Shutting down the Tigers he allowed his offense to tack on an insurance run in the top of the sixth. With one out Humphreys roped a ball off the wall in left field, but was thrown out by Burgreen for his second assist of the game. Now with two outs and the bottom of the order up for Mississippi State, Lipscomb looked to be in good shape.
It didn’t turn out that way, however, as Jacob Robson and Ryan Gridley both singled to bring John Holland to the plate. Batting .192 entering the game, Holland got a first pitch fastball and roped it into right field to score Robson. That made it 4-0 and from there it was all Hudson.
Auburn had managed just four hits through the first seven innings before finally putting something together in the bottom of the eighth. Getting singles from Damon Haecker and Nulph to start things off, Grier stepped to the plate looking for his first hit of the game. His smash was right to Gridley at short and the 6-4-3 double play killed the Auburn rally and put a cap on the night for Hudson.
Auburn will try to even the series on Saturday with Justin Camp going for the Tigers on Senior Day. The first pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and can be seen on the SEC Network.