MSU defeats Auburn 12-1 at Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. - Mississippi State scored eight runs in the first three innings and senior Tanner Brock allowed one run in a strong eight-inning start Saturday afternoon as MSU (23-14-1, 9-7 SEC) topped Auburn 12-1. The Bulldog win evened the three-game weekend series at a game apiece, setting up Sunday's series-deciding 1:30 p.m. matchup at Plainsman Park.

"It is a great win for us," said MSU coach Ron Polk. "I am very, very happy and proud of (the ballclub)."

Matthew Brinson belted his second and third home runs of the weekend, one a solo shot off AU starter Colby Paxton (8-3) in the first inning and another solo blast that put the Bulldogs up 11-1 in the sixth inning. Paxton was rocked for eight runs before leaving the game with one batter retired in the third. Brent Lewis followed Brinson's first-inning blast with a double and scored MSU's second run on Steve Gendron's single to left.

"I don't think you will see a Colby Paxton linescore like this the rest of this season," said Polk. "Paxton just didn't have command and he was pitching from behind the count. When he threw the ball in the zone, we nailed him pretty good."

Jason Burkley, playing with a bad back, opened the second inning with a single, Michael Brown drew a walk, and Matthew Maniscalco lashed an RBI single for MSU's first run in the inning. Chad Henry followed with a towering three-run home run over the left field wall for a 6-0 MSU lead. State expanded the lead further in the fourth when Burkley doubled in a run and scored on Casey Long's infield groundout.

"Henry has now become a little bit of a pop guy himself," said Polk. "He got all of that pitch. That was a tough pitch. It looks like it was in on his hands and he just got the head (of the bat) through."

Coach Polk also commented on Burkley's condition. "(Jason Burkley's) back has been bothering him. He had a tough knot on his back. They got that solved. Then he was overcompensating for the knot in his back and he started hurting on his other side. He is kind of a wounded kid right now. But, at the same time, he is a battler. He is going to catch again (Sunday). Maybe, we can find a way to give him a couple of days off this week."

Tanner Brock (5-3) turned in a strong eight-inning pitching performance, scattering six hits, striking out four and holding Auburn to one run. He gave up a pair of singles and a run-scoring double by Sean Gamble in the third inning. But Brock worked out of the jam, retiring Javon Moran on an infield groundout and ending the inning on a double play when Bobby Huddleston lined out to centerfielder Casey Long and Long fired a strike to Maniscalco at second to double off Gamble.

"Tanner Brock only gives up six hits and one run," said Polk. "It was a good performance by Tanner. He knew all he had to do was throw strikes and let them hit the ball. I thought he paced himself well and he had command throughout the ballgame. It was good to see Tanner have a good ballgame."

In the fifth inning Michael Brown doubled in Jon Mungle with MSU's ninth run for a 9-1 Mississippi State lead, and an inning later State used two more extra-base hits to go up 11-1. Maniscalco ripped a lead-off triple into the right field corner and Henry drove Maniscalco home with a sacrifice fly. Brinson then followed with his second home run of the game and his ninth of the year, ending a three-inning pitching stint for Andrew Skinner, the second of four Auburn pitchers in the game.

"Hitting is contagious," said Polk. "This may be our most hitting-contagious ballclub. When we don't swing the bat, no one swings the bat well, and when we swing it, it seems like everybody swings well."

The Bulldogs closed out scoring with a run in the ninth. Enrico Jones was hit by a pitch and came home on a pinch-hit double by J.B. Tucker.

Relief pitcher Chris Young retired the three Auburn batters he faced in the ninth to close out the game for MSU.

The series-evening win marks the sixth time this season MSU has reached double figures in runs, hits and RBI in an SEC game, one in each of the first six league weekends.

"It is amazing. It seems like every weekend we find a way to blow a pretty good pitcher off the mound, then we struggle at other times," said Polk. "I wish I had an answer for that."

Mississippi State junior lefty Joey Collums (2-2, 3.15) is scheduled to start Sunday's series finale opposite Auburn junior right-hander Levale Speigner (6-4, 3.78).

"Our bullpen is in great shape for (Sunday)," said Polk. "I think Auburn's is too with that Register boy. He was awesome on Friday. Hopefully, if he has to come into the ballgame, he is not as effective as he was Friday night."

MSU (23-14-1, 9-7) 242 012 001 - 12-15-3
AUBURN (26-15, 8-9) 001 000 000 - 1-6-3

Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is You can contact him by emailing

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