Auburn Gets Huge Comeback Win Over MSU

Auburn came back from nine runs down to defeat Mississippi State 16-14 Saturday at Plainsman Park.

Auburn, Ala.--Trailing 9-0 in the second inning, the #19 Auburn Tigers proceeded to smash seven home runs in one of the biggest comebacks in school history as they defeated Mississippi State 16-14 on Saturday to win their fifth series of the year and third in a row in the SEC. Third baseman Dan Gamache homered twice and was a perfect 3-3 on the day, but he was far from the only hitting star as the Tigers set a school record with seven home runs on the way to what coach John Pawlowski called an amazing win.

"The biggest thing is the perseverance of this club," Pawlowski said. "We were down 9-0 and the first three guys of the game strike out. We've got absolutely nothing going in the dugout. The next thing you know they keep chipping away and we cut it to one. The guys just found a way to win today. That's one of those wins that can only help boost your confidence as you try to attain your goals."

With the win Auburn improves to 32-15 overall and 14-9 in SEC play. It's the most SEC wins for an Auburn team since the Tigers won 18 in 2003.

Getting back in the game after being down nine and eventually cutting the lead down to 11-10, Auburn found itself trailing 13-10 heading to the bottom of the seventh inning and was hoping to capture lightning in bottle once again. After coming back from nine runs down to get within one, the Tigers again were forced to battle. Leading off, designated hitter Kevin Patterson walked to bring shortstop Casey McElroy to the plate. Auburn's hitting star on Friday night, McElroy launched a two-run shot to right field to bring the Tigers to within one with nobody out. Already with one home run on the day, Gamache made it back-to-back for the second time on the game as his homer the center field tied the game at 13.

Casey McElroy touches home after his home run on Saturday.

Catcher Ryan Jenkins started things right over for the Tigers with a single to right field. With second baseman Justin Hargett coming to the plate in a bunt situation, Auburn pinch ran Tony Caldwell at first base. Hargett fooled the Bulldogs though as he slashed a double down the left field line to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Things took an unfortunate turn though as a Justin Fradejas liner was caught on a diving grab by shortstop Jonathan Ogden. He turned and threw to second to double off Hargett for the second out.

Bringing in a lefty to face Trent Mummey, Mississippi State kept the Tigers in play as he hit the center fielder with a pitch to bring Brian Fletcher to the plate. Already with a home run in the game and facing soft-tossing C.C. Watson, Fletcher got down 1-2 before lining a double off the monster in left. That scored two runs to put the Tigers up 15-13.

"The guy had a pretty good breaking ball and he started me off with one for a strike and threw another one for a strike," Fletcher said. "I was sitting there 0-2 and he came with another one for a ball. I figured he was going to stick with it and they had been throwing me inside a lot. They came with the same breaking ball inside and I saw it and was able to turn on it and get it off the wall."

Morris followed with a double to score Fletcher to put Auburn in front 16-13. The Bulldogs scored a single run in the ninth off closer Austin Hubbard to make the final 16-14 in a game that Gamache said is unlike any he's ever been a part of.

"It was a crazy game," Gamache said. "We just knew that we had to score a lot of runs. We knew our pitchers were going to hold them a little and try not to give up any more runs. We got it done today.

"We knew we could do it," he added. "We were just trying to get pitches to hit. They got a of pitches up today and we drove them out of the park. We got a little help from the wind, but we don't have a problem hitting the ball out. I've never been a part of that. I've never hit more than one in a game so I can't really say anything about that."

Reliever Bradley Hendrix earned the win for the Tigers in relief, allowing a run on one hit in one and one/thirds innings. Devin Jones got the loss for the Bulldogs, allowing four four runs on three hits in just one and two/thirds innings. Hendrix was one of six Auburn pitchers on the day that allowed 14 runs on 14 hits.

Mississippi State appeared to all but put the game away in the first two innings as Auburn's struggles continue in the second game of SEC series in recent weeks. In the first after getting the first out of the game, Auburn starter Slade Smith proceeded to get bombed as a pair of singles and a hit by pitch loaded the bases for the Bulldogs. That's all Jaron Shepherd needed to see as he singled to center field to score two. Cody Freeman followed that with a two-run single of his own and just like that it was 4-0 MSU. Following a bunt single, Smith got Odgen to hit a sharp grounder to Morris at first base. Throwing to second, the junior got the first out but McElroy's return throw to first was dropped by Smith. The error allowed Freeman to score for an early 5-0 advantage.

Smith didn't make it out of the second inning though as he hit the leadoff man Nick Vickerson to bring Adkins to the plate. Getting a pitch to drive, he launched it off the batter's eye in center field for a two-run shot. That prompted the move to Zach Blatt out of the bullpen, but that didn't pay off either as he walked Connor Powers to bring Russ Sneed to the plate. His eighth home run of the season to right field pushed the Bulldog lead to 9-0 and put the Tigers in a hole they could never dig out of.

It wasn't for trying though as the Tigers finally got to MSU starter Chris Stratton in the bottom of the second. With two outs and nobody on McElroy doubled to right field and Gamache earned a walk to bring catcher Ryan Jenkins to the plate. As hot as anyone on the team at the moment, Jenkins got ahead in the count and launched a long home run over the wall in left field. That put Auburn on the board and made it 9-3 Bulldogs.

A two-out solo home run by Adkins in the third, his second of the game, put Mississippi State into double figures before Auburn would chip away again in the bottom of the inning. A one-out single by Mummey followed by a two-out Morris single brought Patterson to the plate and the junior came through with a single to center field. A McElroy strikeout would end the threat for Auburn though with the Tigers down 10-4.

Following a scoreless fourth the Bulldogs added another run in the top of the fifth before Auburn would answer back with the long ball in the bottom of the inning. With one out Mummey reached on a catcher's interference to bring Fletcher to the plate. Getting ahead 2-0 in the count, Fletcher turned on a fastball and hit it straight into the air into left field. Fortunately for the Tigers he hit it hard enough that it easily cleared the wall for a two-run home run. It was his 14th of the year and cut the lead down to five.

That's when the floodgates opened for the Tigers though as three more home runs in the inning brought Auburn back to within one and set the stage for a dramatic last four innings. With reliever Chad Girodo in, Morris hit a long home run to the right field and Patterson followed suit as the Tigers went back-to back to make it a three-run game. An error on a ball hit by McElroy brought Gamache to the plate and the sophomore made it four in the inning for the Tigers with a long ball to center field. A solo shot from Powers in the top of the sixth put the Bulldogs back in front 12-10 with the ninth homer of the game for the two teams. Another single run in the seventh put Mississippi State up by three heading to the bottom of the seventh as Hendrix came on to keep the Tigers within striking distance and set the stage for the comeback victory.

Auburn will go for its second sweep of the SEC season on Sunday with junior Grant Dayton on the mound. The first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. Auburn hasn't swept MSU since 1987 and not in Auburn since 1985.

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