In what has become an all-too-familiar pattern for the Tigers, starter Colby Paxton wasn't able to get through three innings of work before having to be replaced on the mound by reliever Andrew Skinner. Allowing eight runs on seven hits in just two and one/third innings of work, the sophomore took the loss and falls to 8-3 on the season.
Bulldog starter Tanner Brock pitched eight strong innings and allowed just one run on six hits as he moves his record to 5-3.
"The first three innings," said Auburn head coach Steve Renfroe. "I really thought we were ready to play. I liked our at-bats the first three innings, but when you are down eight the guy gets in a rocking chair then, he doesn't have to do anything. Colby, they just really tattooed him and that was the ball game. It got away from us. Eight in three innings. That has happened to us several times and it is hard to overcome that."
The Bulldogs wasted little time in building a lead thanks to the bat of Matthew Brinson. Already with one home run on the weekend in Friday night's game, he took a 2-1 pitch with two outs deep over the left field wall for a solo home run and a quick 1-0 lead for Mississippi State. The visitors weren't through though as a Steve Gendron single just moments later scored Brent Lewis from second base after he had doubled and the Bulldogs led 2-0.
Things would go from bad to worse for Auburn in the second inning. Jason Burkley led off with a single to left field and was followed by a Michael Brown walk to put runners on first and second. A fielder's choice off the bat of Casey Long retired Brown at second base but the Bulldogs still had two runners on.
Matthew Maniscalco, an Alabama native from Oxford, then singled through the right side to score Burkley for the first run of the inning. Chad Henry then delivered the big blow of the game as he took an 0-2 pitch from Paxton over the green monster in left field for a three-run home run to give Mississippi State a commanding 6-0 lead after just one and a half innings.
With Auburn still hitless off Brock, the Bulldogs went back to work in the third looking for more. With one out, designated hitter Jon Mungle walked to give State a base runner. Burkley followed with a double to right center field that scored Mungle all the way from first base with the seventh run of the game. After a Brown single to right field, Burkley would score on a Long fielder's choice and the Bulldogs suddenly were up eight heading to the bottom of the third.
The Tigers would mount a serious threat in the third inning, but just as in games past they couldn't put up the big inning to get back in the game. Chuck Jeroloman led things off with a single to right field and Jonathan Schuerholz drew a walk right behind him to give Auburn two runners on with nobody out. Freshman Sean Gamble continued the rally with a double off the monster in left field that scored Jeroloman from second with what would turn out to be Auburn's only run of the game.
With runners on second and third, nobody out and the heart of the Tiger order coming to the plate, things appeared to be looking up for Auburn. But it wasn't to be as Javon Moran grounded out to third for the first out of the inning and then Bobby Huddleston hit a liner to Gendron in center field that Gamble mis-read, allowing himself to be doubled off for the third out of the inning. The lack of production in the third effectively put an end to the Auburn day.
The Bulldogs would score one run in the fifth, two in the sixth, including Brinson's second home run of the day, and one run in the ninth to make the final score 12-1. Auburn managed just six hits, two of which came off the bat of Jeroloman, and stranded eight runners. The Bulldogs were led by six players with two hits each--Maniscalco, Henry, Brinson, Lewis, Burkley and Brown.
The Tigers and Bulldogs square off Sunday afternoon at 1:30 with junior Levale Speigner facing junior left-hander Joey Collums from State. Speigner is 6-4 on the year with an ERA of 3.78 while Collums is 2-2 with an earned run average of 3.15.