State Slugs Auburn Pitching to Seal Fifth SEC Road Series Success

Bulldogs battered Auburn for an eight-run second inning, with consecutive home runs, sending Mississippi State on to a 16-6 victory and clinching the weekend series after two games.

This is the eighth won-series out of nine SEC weekends for the Bulldogs (36-14-1, 17-9 SEC). It also makes them 5-for-5 in road series on the season, the first time since 1997 a State squad won all of its SEC away-weekends.

Extra-base knocks highlighted a season-most 21 base hits by the Bulldogs. Mississippi State got a three-run homer from Gavin Collins followed by Brent Rooker’s solo shot to blow the afternoon open in that second inning. Rooker (3-of-5) did add another solo homer in the fifth inning, and added his third RBI with a double in the eighth.

Jake Mangum, hitless in Friday’s win, went 4-of-6 today with a pair of doubles and scored three times. Nathaniel Lowe was 4-of-5 with three RBI and scored twice. Jack Kruger (3-of-5) also knocked a couple of two-baggers, including a RBI-double in the eighth to score Mangum.

The Bulldogs combined for four doubles in that frame alone with eight for the full game. There were also triples, from John Holland and Cole Gordon. All starters managed at least one base hit.

“Up and down the lineup it’s pretty impressive,” Coach John Cohen said on post-game radio. “Magnum, Kruger, Lowe, Collins, really everybody on our club. It was just a team effort. I’m really impressed with what we did.”

With the early support Bulldog pitcher Austin Sexton (6-2) worked into the seventh inning and for his winning decision. He was charged with six runs on as many hits and a walk, against eight strikeouts. Not until Auburn stung him for a three-run homer in their sixth, chopping the lead to 10-5, did Sexton step down.

Cohen wasn’t bothered by that longball, ironically hit by the son of former Mississippi State placekicker Joel Logan, or by his starter. He noted a few errors didn’t support Sexton and the three RBI were all unearned. “He deserved better than we did defensively. But he did a great job for us.”

Lefthander Daniel Brown did give up one more score in that frame, and nothing the rest of the way. Cohen initially thought about limiting his stint to keep Brown available for Sunday, then figured it would have to be somebody used-up anyway. “We didn’t want to use anybody else.”

The win keeps Mississippi State second place in the SEC’s Western Division, regardless of Ole Miss' walk-off win and sweep of Kentucky. Overall, State got a little outside overall help on the other side of the league as Vanderbilt beat Florida to even that series. With Texas A&M at South Carolina also underway the most updated standings for the top half of the conference are:

Florida .680 17-8; Texas A&M .680 17-8; South Carolina .667 16-8; Mississippi State .654 17-9; Ole Miss .623 17-10; Louisiana State .623 17-10; Vanderbilt .577 15-11. (SEC standings and finish determined by winning percentage)

Now on a seven-win streak the Bulldogs will play for a second-straight sweep, oddly enough of another Tiger team after brooming Missouri last weekend. Lefthander Konnor Pilkington (2-1, 2.10) will get the ball and the opportunity.

“It will not be easy,” said Cohen of sweep potential. “But I like where our kids are mentally and they know what’s at stake.”

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