Mississippi State exploded in the second inning and road the wave to another SEC road series win.

Mississippi State meant business and it showed. A pair of home runs in the second inning paced the State offense as the Bulldogs raced out to an early 8-0 lead. Before the day was through, 16 Bulldog runners would score on the strength of a season high 21 base hits. The victory secured the series for Mississippi State, marking the first time since 1997 that State won every SEC road series.

"We swung the bats very well," Coach John Cohen said after the series clinching win. "The only issue we had was that we made two major defensive gaffes over the course of that ball game that cost us four runs, probably five runs.

"I thought the positive thing with that was that Austin Sexton did a great job just having damage control and not letting that affect him."

Run support had been in short supply for the Bulldog righty, but on Saturday his offense showed up in a major way which allowed some margin for error.

Jacob Robson would lead-off the Bulldog second with a stinging single to right and advance to third on Ryan Gridley's ground ball that Damon Haecker threw high to first. With runners now at second and third, freshman catcher Elih Marrero drove in Robson with a ground ball to the right side. 

Gridley would later score on a triple to right center by second baseman John Holland, who battled hard throughout the at bat. Suddenly, State was in business with the top of the order coming up. Jake Mangum would then double to right plating Holland and Auburn starter Justin Camp was on the ropes. 

After a Jack Kruger single, Bulldog first baseman Nathaniel Lowe would line one to left that chased Mangum home bringing the lead to 4-0 as Auburn's bullpen got busy. The relief would not come soon enough. The next two Bulldog hitters would hit home runs, Gavin Collins would take one over the left field wall for a three run blast and Brent Rooker would follow with a solo blast of his own. 

"They challenged me with two fastballs," Rooker said of his first round tripper. "Gavin put a really good swing on a change-up, so I was thinking they were going to come back with a fastball since the change-up got hit pretty hard. They did and I was able to put a good swing on it and find a barrel."

With eight runs home in the second, Camp's day was done lasting just one and a third innings. 

In the home half of the second frame, Auburn would answer back scoring a pair of runs thanks to some well placed safeties from the bottom third of their order. After a walk to Tiger lead off hitter Anfernee Grier, Mississippi State pitching coach Wes Johnson would make a visit to the mound. 

Sexton responded by retiring six in a row before Auburn catcher Kyler Deese would reach on an error on a dropped third strike. The talented junior battled today without the full complement of his pitches, but still found a way to keep Auburn from bunching together hits.

The Bulldogs would get back on the scoreboard in the top of five, when Rooker connected with a Gordon Cardenas' fastball that he deposited just over the left center field wall. Cardenas would walk Robson on the next at bat and be pulled from the game with Auburn down 9-2.

State would tack on another run in the top of the sixth after Mangum reached on a single, advanced to third on a Kruger double and eventually touched home after a Nathaniel Lowe single making it 10-2.

Auburn would not go quietly. In the bottom of the sixth, Auburn's Blake Logan, son of former Mississippi State kicker Joel Logan, would launch a three run home run over the green monster in left cutting the Bulldog lead to 10-5. The Tigers would plate another run in the bottom of seven to pull to within 10-6.

From there Sexton and left handed reliever Daniel Brown would keep Auburn off of the scoreboard.

"I had my fastball and slider working really well today," Sexton said. "Unfortunately, I didn't have my change-up. There are some things I wish I could have taken back. I hung an 0-2 slider, in the sixth inning and I didn't get out of the way of Nate on that ball. Mistakes like that you just have to minimize."

The Bulldogs would answer in the top of the eighth, when Mangum and Kruger would rip back to back doubles. After trading places, State was ahead 11-6. The harvest of double vision would continue as Lowe and Rooker would follow suit as the lead swelled to 13-6. All told, Bulldog hitters would total eight doubles on the day, a team high since the 2010 season.

In the top of the 9th, John Holland would drive in Ryan Gridley to provide some added insurance with his second extra base hit of the day. The Bulldogs would add two more when Holland scored on a Kruger sac fly and Mangum raced home on a Cole Gordon pinch hit triple.

With the win, Mississippi State improves their record to 36-14-1 and 17-9 in the SEC. Auburn drops to 22-29 overall and 8-18 in the league. 

The Bulldogs will be back in action on Sunday looking for their second consecutive sweep. The game three starter for Mississippi State will be left hander Konnor Pilkington (2-1, 2.10). Auburn is expected to start right hander Casey Mize (2-3, 2.90). 

First pitch is scheduled for 1 PM as Mississippi State looks to close out the road portion of their regular schedule in grand fashion. 

Gene's Page Top Stories