Auburn Claims Series With 7-3 Win

AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn (18-21, 6-9 SEC) scored twice in the fifth and added two more in the seventh Sunday afternoon to post a series-clinching 7-3 win over No. 8 Mississippi State (26-9, 7-7 SEC) at Plainsman Park. Andy Bennett went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs and junior right-hander Chris Dennis allowed just one earned run in his five-inning stint for the Tigers.

Both teams plated single runs in the opening inning. Jeffrey Rea singled through the right side to open the game, moved to second on a passed ball and went to third on an infield groundout. Thomas Berkery then drew a walk, and Rea scored the game's first run when State executed a double steal.

MSU starter John Lalor retired the first two batters he faced to open the game, then gave up a game-tying solo home run by Mike Bianucci, his sixth roundtripper of the season.

State tied the score with a run in the fourth when lead-off batter Thomas Berkery was hit by a pitch, Brian LaNinfa moved him into scoring position and Jeff Butts followed with a run-scoring single to right. The Tigers avoided further damage when LaNinfa was picked off at second base.

Auburn answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Luke Greinke reached on a fielding error, stole second and scored on Russell Dixon's double into the left-center gap.

Tiger junior right-hander Chris Dennis walked two batters and gave up a single to Jeffrey Rea to load the bases. But Dennis got Mitch Moreland to ground out to end the threat and close out his five-inning mound stint.

Auburn parlayed a walk, a hit batsman, a bunt single and a Bulldog throwing error to plate two runs in the fifth, and added two more runs in the seventh with three hits and another Bulldog fielding error. Andy Bennett delivered the key blow, a two-run single that extended the Auburn lead to 7-3.

Dennis (2-3) got the win, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Peter Wiggins held MSU scoreless over three innings and Luke Greinke worked the ninth, giving up an unearned run when JeffButts doubled and came home when Michael Rutledge's fly ball was dropped by shortstop Justin Bristow.

John Lalor took the loss for State, scattering eight runs and allowing five runs (three earned) with two walks and four strikeouts over six innings. Chad Crosswhite gave up two runs (one earned) in an inning of relief while Justin Pigott retired the three batters he faced in the ninth.

Jeffrey Rea, Brian LaNinfa and Jeff Butts had two hits each for the Bulldogs while Andy Bennett, Luke Greinke and Russell Dixon had two-hit afternoons to lead Auburn's 11-hit attack.

State travels to Memphis for a pair of midweek games, testing the Tigers Tuesday at 6:30 p.m,. Tuesday and 7 p.m. Wednesday to close out a six-game stay on the road.

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