Harrison Bragg (Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page)

Bulldog Pitching Assists Auburn Offense in Blowout

Network staff were starting to sweat the schedule, wondering if a five-hour window would be enough. It was, despite the best efforts of two offenses and not-best efforts from a bunch of pitchers.

Auburn used a 14-hit assault to batter host Mississippi State 17-8 and square the weekend series at Dudy Noble Field. The rubber game was to start at 8:02ct.

Actually all the hitting wasn’t by Tiger batters. Mississippi State moundsmen hit them five times to go with eight walks; and for bad measure threw six more wild pitches. All five Bulldogs who toed the rubber gave up at least one run in the long afternoon grind.

And yet the Bulldog offense was still in late-game striking distance, pulling within 10-8 after seven innings. Auburn blew it open in their eighth with five runs, three of the scorers reaching without a swing.

The blowout finish belied a reasonably competitive Mississippi State start. A two-run homer by 3B Harrison Bragg in the second, and a solo shot to lead off the third by 1B Brent Rooker made for a 3-1 lead.

But the Tigers trumped those shots with a seven-run outburst in their fourth to take something like control. The main victim was State starter RHP Cole Gordon who up to then had scuffled through the first three with minimal damage. He was tagged for consecutive singles and wild-pitched in one run, before a plunking and RBI-single.

RHP Peyton Plumlee saw his first pitch punched past shortstop by Jonah Todd for a tied game with sacks still stuffed. The first out came on a fly ball to left scoring Damon Haecker for the 4-3 lead. Soon it was doubled because with bases loaded Dylan Ingram—a former MSU player and transfer—drove one beyond leftfield for a grand slam.

It was 9-3 in the fifth when State had its big inning. Just, not big enough. Tiger starter Davis Daniel had a pair of Dogs on for Rooker to lift a drive getting beyond the centerfielder’s reach for a one-run double. With two still on LF Cody Brown beat both the pitcher and the right-to-left wind and sailed a three-run shot over right-centerfield chopping the deficit to 9-7.

Swaps of runs made it 10-8 as State got consecutive seventh-inning doubles from SS Ryan Gridley and Brown. But Auburn had more than enough answer after Cole Lipscomb held the margin at two. RHP Jacob Barton had two outs and two on when he loaded the bases with another plunking. #9 batter Will Holland watched ball-four to force in a run, then order-topper Todd cleared the sacks ahead of him with a fly-ball triple.

Just for good measure the Tigers added a pair in their ninth off outfielder-turned-pitcher Brant Blaylock with a walk and wild pitches putting runners on third base to score consecutively on a ground ball and fly ball.

Todd had another big day against Bulldog pitching, going 3-of-4 in leadoff with four RBI and two runs. Five more Tigers had two base hits and Ingram scored four times along with his four-run homer (6).

State’s Rooker hit his 18th homer of the season and was 3-of-5 with two runs and RBI alike. Brown drove in four with his two hits.

Lipscomb (4-0) got the win in relief with 4.2 innings of one-run work, four hits and four strikeouts. Gordon (2-1) took the loss in 3.0-plus with the first five runs charged on five hits and three walks, though he did fan six. Plumlee and Barton also were responsible for five runs apiece, and all 17 Tiger scores were earned.

That’s if one considers getting walked and plunked earning it.

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