Auburn, Ala.--Saturday was Senior Day for the Auburn Tigers, but it wasn’t a day to remember for Justin Camp as he gave up eight runs in the second inning as Mississippi State held off a late charge to win 16-6 and take the series. With the loss Auburn falls to 22-29 overall and 8-17 in SEC play.
Auburn relievers Gordon Cardenas, Andrew Mitchell, Daniel Sprinkle, Marc Frazier, Sam Mason and Tavo Rodriguez did little to slow down the Mississippi State offense either as the Bulldogs (36-14-1, 17-9) pounded the Tigers for 13 extra-base hits on the way to the win. Coach Butch Thompson said the day was all about the big second inning.
"That's one where you are hamstrung," Thompson said of the big inning. "I just don't want to take Justin out because it's so early, but I see the runs and you can't give up any more. I could kind of see where we had to go to. We just never got close enough to bring in a couple of guys because you've got to win a game to keep trying to get into the conference tournament.
"I would have liked to have won a game before now, but we wanted to make sure that if we got behind that far I thought our best chance was to save Casey (Mize) and Daniel Robert and maybe (Gabe) Klobositz can give us a little bit and (Izaac) Yarbrough. We've got four guys to try to win a ballgame and we couldn't expend any of them right there.
"You can see they are playing offense tremendous and they are a handful. The eight-run second inning gave us no chance. I trust Justin and I hate it on Senior Day because he has meant so much to the program."
One of the only bright spots of the day came from junior Blake Logan. Entering the game as a defensive replacement behind the plate, Logan was 2-2 with a three-run home run and a double as part of an eight-hit attack for the Tigers.
Camp, Frazier and Mason were three of the of seven seniors honored on Saturday. The others were Jackson Burgreen, Jordan Ebert, Melvin Gray and Cody Nulph.
Camp’s day didn’t last very long as the Bulldogs pounded out eight runs in the second inning to end any drama early on Saturday. A Jacob Robson single started things for Mississippi State before Ryan Gridley reached on a throwing error on Auburn third baseman Damon Haecker. That put runners on second and third with no outs and opened the floodgates for the Bulldogs.
Getting a groundout that scored a run, Camp tried to right the ship against No. 9 hitter John Holland, but the .195 hitter scorched a triple to the gap to drive in his second run of the series. Now up 2-0 Mississippi State kept the pressure on with a Jake Mangum double for a three-run lead.
Back-to-back singles by the Bulldogs added another run before Gavin Collins stepped to the plate. Already with eight home runs on the season, Collins got a pitch to drive and hammered it over the wall for a three-run shot. When Brent Rooker sent the first of his two home runs over the wall with the next at-bat it was 8-0 Bulldogs and the end of the day for Camp.
Auburn got a pair of runs back in the bottom of the second when Jackson Burgreen was hit by a pitch and scored on a Damon Haecker double off the monster in left field. A one-out single by Cody Nulph scored Haecker to cut the lead down to six with still plenty of baseball left on Saturday.
Unfortunately for Auburn, the Bulldogs kept scoring as single runs in the fifth and sixth pushed the lead back to eight before the Tigers would answer back with a long ball of their own in the bottom of the sixth. Leading off with a single to extend his hitting streak in SEC games to 12, Niko Buentello moved to second when Burgreen reached on an error.
With two runners on that brought Logan to the plate. In the game as a replacement for Kyler Deese, Logan got a pitch to turn on and drove it over the wall in left for a three-run home run. That cut the lead down to five as the Tigers kept chipping away. Adding another run in the seventh on a Melvin Gray single, the Tigers found themselves down just four heading to the eighth, but the Bulldogs would have nothing of a comeback on this day.
Facing reliever Daniel Sprinkle, Mississippi State got a pair of doubles to get one run back. Marc Frazier wouldn’t have any better luck as two more doubles finished off a three-run inning for the Bulldogs to push the lead back to seven.
Auburn will try to salvage a win in the series on Sunday when freshman Casey Mize takes the mound for the Tigers. The first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.