Starkville, Miss.--Clinging to a two-run lead in the eighth inning against a Mississippi State team already with three home runs on the day, the Auburn Tigers (31-14, 13-7) got a three-run triple from Jonah Todd as part of a five-run inning to break the game open on the way to a 17-8 win in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Dudy Noble Field.
The win evens the series heading into Saturday night’s second game at 7 p.m. and drops Mississippi State to 30-15 overall and 14-6 in conference action.
Entering the game in the fifth inning, Lipscomb allowed just one run on four hits in four and two/thirds innings to earn his fourth win of the year. With his offense putting up big numbers, Lipscomb said his focus was just to throw strikes and get out of the game with a victory.
“It’s huge,” Lipscomb said. “To win a series you’ve got to win the first game. A big part of that is trying to save some pitching for the second game. I came in to put out a little fire and then our offense did a good job of immediately giving us a bunch of runs. At that point my job was just to throw strikes and finish the game and save everybody else for game two.”
With one out and nobody on for Auburn against MSU reliever Jacob Barton, Ingram got things started in the eighth with a single and it would be the beginning of a big inning. Barton would help the cause with a pair of hit batters to load the bases with one out for shortstop Will Holland. Already with a pair of RBI on sacrifice fly balls in the game, Holland walked to force home a run and give Auburn a three-run advantage.
Already with a pair of hits and a walk in the game, Todd worked a full count before taking an inside pitch over the head of the right fielder. His triple scored all three runs and broke the game open for the Tigers. He would later score on a wild pitch to push Auburn’s lead to seven with only six outs left to get for Lipscomb.
Getting out of a jam in the bottom of the eighth with a strikeout of Brent Rooker, who was 3-4 with two RBI on the day, Lipscomb allowed his offense to add two more runs in the top of the ninth to give plenty of insurance for the Tigers to finish it off.
It was a tough outing for Auburn freshman Davis Daniel on the mound as he allowed three runs home runs as part of seven runs on six hits in four and one/thirds innings. Reliever Calvin Coker failed to get an out, facing two batters in the fifth before turning things over to Lipscomb.
Taking the early lead in the second inning on a Holland sacrifice fly, the Tigers almost got a huge inning as his blast with the bases loaded was caught at the base of the wall in left field. The one run only served to wake up the Mississippi State bats however as Harrison Bragg’s two-run homer to left in the bottom of the second put the Bulldogs in front.
Adding a solo homer by Rooker in the third to make it a 3-1 game, Mississippi State was hoping to get starter Cole Gordon through another inning but Auburn had other ideas. Singles by Josh Anthony and Jeremy Johnson got things started and with runners on first and third Gordon uncorked a wild pitch that scored Anthony. Hustling on the play, Johnson moved all the way to third with still no outs.
A walk to Haecker and Holland hit by a pitch loaded the bases for Auburn with no outs and Jonah Todd at the plate. Facing reliever Peyton Plumlee, Todd laced a single through the left side to tie the game and keep the inning going. Jay Estes added a sacrifice fly to put the Tigers in front 4-3 before Daniel Robert struck out for the first out of the inning.
Following a walk to Conor Davis, Ingram came to the plate following a mound visit by Mississippi State looking for a fastball. Getting a pitch over the heart of the plate, Ingram mashed it over the left field wall for his second grand slam of the season.
Now in front 8-3, Auburn got a shutdown inning from Daniel in the bottom of the fourth and added another run in the fifth on Holland’s second sacrifice fly of the game to take a six-run lead into the bottom of the fifth. That’s when Mississippi State’s power would show up again.
Daniel didn’t help himself to start the inning with a leadoff walk to No. 9 hitter Tanner Poole and when leadoff man Jake Mangum reached on an infield single it brought Rooker back to the plate once again.Getting a pitch over the plate, Rooker smoked a double off the wall in center field that Todd nearly ran down for the out.
Instead the Auburn lead was cut to 9-4. Following a Ryan Gridley pop up, Daniel left a pitch over the heart of the plate to Cody Brown and he drove it over the center field wall for a three-run homer. It was his sixth of the season and make it a two-run game.
Coker allowed a single and a walk out of the Auburn bullpen to keep the inning alive before Lipscomb came on to retire the final two batters and keep the Tigers in front 9-7.
In the sixth Anthony pushed the lead back to three with a double down the right field line to score Ingram all the way from first. With the lead back to three Lipscomb pitched a scoreless sixth but would run into trouble in the seventh with back-to-back doubles from Gridley and Brown cutting the lead to two.
With a runner on second and no outs, Lipscomb got a fly ball to right for the first out before Haecker made one of the plays of the game. With a ball bouncing away from him at the plate Haecker pounced and threw a strike to retire the Bulldog runner at third for the second out. Lipscomb got a strikeout to end the inning and keep the lead at two.
That set the stage for Auburn’s big eighth inning to break the game open and tie the series.
The rubber game between the Tigers and Bulldogs is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start on Saturday night.