Auburn Salvages Final Game

AUBURN, Ala. - No. 11 Auburn (28-14, 9-9 SEC) rallied for four runs in the ninth inning Sunday afternoon to claim a 6-5 win over Mississippi State (26-15, 8-10 SEC) at Plainsman Park. The comeback win salvaged the final game of the series for the Tigers and prevented the Bulldogs from claiming their first three-game series sweep at Auburn.

Sean Gamble punched a two-out single through the left side of the infield, scoring Tug Hulett for the winning run. Hulett delivered the game's biggest hit two batters earlier with a two-run triple into the left-center field gap.

The Bulldogs had scored a pair of runs in the top of the ninth to stake relief pitcher Jamie Gant to a 5-2 lead. Jeffrey Rea walked and later scored on a Brad Jones sacrifice fly and Steve Gendron, hit by a pitch, scored on a two-out single by Craig Tatum.

But Gant, after retiring the first batter faced in the ninth, gave up a bloop single, a walk, and a pinch-hit RBI single by Ben Maitland. Hulett then followed with the game-tying triple. After striking out the next batter, Gant was lifted and replaced by Saunders Ramsey, who walked Josh Bell but gave up the game-winning hit to Bell.

Bell, Auburn's starting pitcher/DH, retired the Bulldogs in order in the first inning. Bell then gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead with a two-out single to left. Tug Hulett drew a walk, stole second, and raced home on Bell's hit.

Brad Jones evened the score with a line drive home run over the right field fence, his seventh roundtripper of the season.

Jones scored the Bulldogs' next run two innings later, reaching on a walk, advancing on a misplayed fly ball to center field, and racing home on Tyler Jones' bloop double down the left field line.

The Mississippi State lead grew to 3-1 in the sixth when freshman Brian LaNinfa laced a two-out solo shot to right. It was LaNinfa's fifth home run and his first in 30 games.

Bell, who finished his pitching duties in the sixth inning, made it a 3-2 game in the bottom of the eighth with a one-out solo home run over the center field fence.

Gendron led MSU's seven hit attack with two hits. Brad Corley extended his hitting streak to 16 games and Brad Jones drove in two of MSU's five runs.

Chuck Jeroloman went 3-for-4 to lead Auburn, which picked up four of its 13 hits in the ninth inning.

MSU starter Jeff Lacher scattered eight hits, struck out four, walked two and allowed two runs over 7-1/3 innings before giving way to Gant in the eighth.

State scored four runs off AU starter Josh Bell during his 5-2/3 innings on the mound. Michael Nix pitched 2.2 innings after replacing Bell in the sixth, and John Madden, making his third relief appearance of the weekend, replaced Nix in the ninth. Chris Dennis (3-0) struck out the only batter he faced to end the ninth, and picked up the win after the Tigers staged their game-winning rally.

The Bulldogs return to Alabama to continue their season-longest eight-game road trip this week, taking on UAB (Apr. 27) and Birmingham-Southern (Apr. 28) in Birmingham. State then travels to Nashville, Tenn., for a three-game weekend series at Vanderbilt.

MSU 010 101 002 --- 5-7-0
Auburn 100 000 014 --- 6-12-1
WP - Chris Dennis (3-0). LP - Jamie Gant (4-5). HR - Brad Jones (7), Brian LaNinfa (5), Josh Bell (10) . T - 3:20. ATT - 3,329.

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