Auburn, Ala.--The No. 3 Mississippi State Bulldogs finished off a sweep of the Auburn Tigers on Sunday as they pounded out three home runs in a 10-3 win at Plainsman Park. The loss drops Auburn to 22-30 overall and 8-19 in SEC play and leaves Coach Butch Thompson’s team with work to do to secure a spot in next week’s SEC Tournament in Hoover.
The story of the game was Mississippi State (37-14-1, 18-9) starter Konnor Pilkington. Entering Sunday’s game with a 2.10 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 34 ? innings pitched this season the left-hander was dominant from the start as he shut down the Auburn offense.
"They pitched it so well this weekend," Thompson said. Pilk did a great job for a freshman. We just weren't able to generate enough offense to ever draw it back close and make them make a move early today."
Auburn starter Casey Mize wasn’t as fortunate as the freshman pitched well, but left too many pitches up in the zone and the veteran Bulldogs made him pay. Making it just four innings, Mize allowed four earned runs on six hits and struck out four. Coming on in relief, Daniel Robert gave up one earned run in two and two/thirds innings for the Tigers and continued to show some promise on the mound in just his third appearance of the season.
"I thought it was a really close game there," Thompson said when Robert entered. "It was 4-0. Daniel Robert did fine job for us. Wound up doubling his pitch count from what he's done. I thought he was the best match-up there. We wound up walking a run in and made it 5-0 and then you're at the point you have to take him out."
At the plate Jordan Ebert had two of Auburn’s five hits to finish off his SEC career at Plainsman Park in style while Kyler Deese drove in two runs for the Tigers. Back in left field for the first time since April 7, Josh Palacios singled and also walked to reach base twice. That was about it for the Tigers on a day when Mississippi State looked like one of the top teams in the country.
Needing a much better start on Sunday looking to salvage a game in the series Auburn got two scoreless innings before Mississippi State’s offense got to the freshman in the third. Leading off with a single, Jake Mangum stole second to move into scoring position and with one out Nathaniel Lowe doubled him home to put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard.
With one out in the fourth Mississippi State added to its lead when Reid Humphreys mashed a ball over the green monster in left field for his fifth home run of the season. An inning later Jack Kruger’s leadoff homer pushed the lead to three before two more hits chased Mize from the game. Another sacrifice fly off Robert made it a four-run cushion for Pilkington to work with and he made it stand up.
Adding three more runs in the seventh before Auburn finally got on the scoreboard thanks to a Kyler Deese sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning, the Bulldogs put the finishing touches on this one with the fourth home run of the game in the top of the eight. With a runner on base and facing left-hander Izaac Yarbrough, first baseman Nathaniel Lowe’s two-run shot floated over the right field wall for a 9-1 Mississippi State lead.
The Bulldogs added another run in the top of the ninth before Auburn would tack on two late runs to make the final 10-3.
Auburn will play its final home game of the season on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. before finishing off the regular season with a three-game series at Vanderbilt beginning on Thursday.