Greinke, starting his second SEC contest of the year, gave up just six hits and left the game with Auburn ahead 5-1. Evan Crawford came in and allowed a walk, single and walk without recording an out before being pulled in favor of Bryan Woodall. With the tying run at the plate and no outs, Woodall recorded a ground ball out and two strikeouts to end the Bulldog rally with just one run and the Tigers still in command 5-2.
The Auburn bats came alive in the bottom half of the seventh with three insurance runs on four hits to put the game out of reach. For good measure, the Tigers pushed four more across the plate in the eighth, including a three-run bomb over the left-field wall by Brian Fletcher.
For Greinke, he improved to 4-3 in an injury-riddled season and hopes to be back in the starting rotation next weekend at Ole Miss. "It's good to see Luke Greinke healthy," head coach Tom Slater said. "When he's healthy that's the kind of performance we get out of him. He was down in the zone with the fastball, his sinker was good, he got a lot of ground balls and all of his pitches were working. He was dynamite."
Luke Greinke is shown in action on Sunday.
Of Greinke's 18 recorded outs, 14 were groundouts. "It was my first time out there in a while, but I felt good," said Greinke, who has battled shoulder tendonitis this season. "I've spent the last couple of weeks getting back in shape, and I hope to help out the team. It's been tough since it's been off and on and I've had some trouble."
Auburn won 11-4 on Friday night and Mississippi State evened up the series with a 4-3 win on Saturday night. With the win on Sunday Auburn remained in contention for the SEC tournament and improved to 10-14 in conference play while the Bulldogs are likely headed for last place in the conference in head coach Ron Polk's final year in a successful career in Starkville. MSU dropped to 7-17 in conference and 19-27 overall.
Four teams are within a game for the eighth and final spot for the SEC Tournament after the weekend. Kentucky and Tennessee are tied for eighth and ninth at 11-13 while Arkansas is 10-13 and Auburn is 10-14 with two weekends remaining.
"It's like we've been talking about–the importance of winning series, and I believe that's our fourth series win in eight series," Slater noted. "That's what we've got to keep doing–winning series and trying to stay in contention. I'm just very proud of our ball club today. The kids really played well in all phases of the game."
David Cunningham, pictured above, was 3-5 with a pair of RBI. Brian Fletcher was also 3-5 for the Tigers with four RBI.
In Sunday's game at Plainsman Park, Mississippi State never lead. The Bulldogs tied the game in the top of the third, but the Tigers were in command for much of the game. Auburn got on the board in the first inning with some head's up base-running by Trent Mummey, who singled up the middle to get on. Hunter Morris hit a slow roller to the left side that third baseman Russ Sneed and shortstop Ryan Powers both broke on, so Mummey didn't stop at second on the play. First baseman Jason Nappi made an errant throw to third that Powers was unable to come up with as the ball trickled into left field, allowing Mummey to easily score on the play.
Mississippi State tied it up at one apiece in the top of the third, but Auburn regained a one-run advantage with two outs in the bottom half of the inning when Mike Bianucci sent one over the green monster in left. It was his sixth homerun in his last 25 SEC at bats as he homered in all three games of the series.
The Tigers scored two more runs in the fourth on four hits off MSU starter Justin Pigott and another in the fifth when Morris doubled to deep center to bring home Mummey.
Woodall entered the game in the seventh with the tying run at the plate and no outs, but he pitched the final three innings allowing one hit, no walks, no runs while striking out four MSU batters.
Auburn scored its 12 runs on 16 hits aided by three MSU errors. State scored its two runs on eight hits.