"Our kids are competing but we are giving away too many at-bats in the middle of our order with some young guys," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "We have young players not evaluating the breaking pitches well enough. We may have to give up some defensive prowess to get more players in the lineup who can evaluate pitches."
With the defeat, the Bulldogs fell to 18-10 overall and 3-5 in league play. Auburn improved to 16-11 and 5-3. For a second straight Sunday, the Bulldogs will go to the final day of the weekend trying to win the rubber game of a three-game series.
MSU won the series opener, 5-3 Friday night. The Maroon and White have not taken a series in this ballpark since 2004.
"I felt like we should have won the series today but since we didn't, we have no other choice but to come out and bring it Sunday," MSU sophomore shortstop Adam Frazier said. "The effort is there and the intensity is there. Right now, we are having a difficult time executing two games in a row.
"We show glimpses of what we can do. If we can get better at the execution, we will be hard a team to beat."
Frazier again set the tone for the Bulldogs Saturday by reaching base in all five plate appearances. Frazier had two hits and three walks and has now reached safely in 14 of his last 15 plate appearances.
"When Adam Frazier bats, I want grab our whole lineup and tell them to watch," Cohen said. "We need nine Adam Fraziers to move this thing forward because of his ability to evaluate pitches. We need some emulation."
The Bulldogs fell down 6-0 quickly Saturday. Starting pitcher Nick Routt was lifted after facing two batters in the third inning. Routt (1-4) allowed four hits and five runs (three earned), with one strikeout and three walks. Five hurlers followed Routt to the mound and kept the Bulldogs in the contest.
Down 6-0, the Bulldogs scored three times in the seventh inning. Again, Frazier started things with a leadoff walk. Mitch Slauter reached on an Auburn error. After a walk to Trey Porter, Hunter Renfroe followed with an infield single. A sacrifice-fly by C.T. Bradford brought the inning's second run home. An RBI-single by Wes Rea plated the third run.
The Tigers then moved to the bullpen. Winning pitcher Will Kendall (4-0) was done after 6.1 innings of four-hit baseball, allowing three runs (two earned), with four strikeouts and two walks. Jay Wade worked Auburn out of the seventh inning before later being touched for the three-run ninth inning.
As quickly as the Bulldogs narrowed the gap, the Tigers again expanded it. Auburn scored four times in the home half of the seventh inning to run its lead to 10-3.
The Bulldogs finished with eight hits, including two by Frazier. Sam Frost saw his five-game hit streak snapped.
Auburn finished with 12 hits, including multi-hit games by Jay Gonzalez, Garrett Cooper, Cullen Wacker and Zach Alvord. Blake Austin had a team-high four RBIs.
The series finale is at 1 p.m. Sunday.