Diamond Dogs Drop Rubber Game To No. 24 Auburn, 8-2
With the victory, Auburn improved to 17-11 overall and 6-3 in conference play. MSU fell to 18-11 and 3-6. The Tigers have won four straight series from the Bulldogs here on the plains. Auburn has opened league play with three straight series wins for the first time since 2003.
"We are not as locked in as we need to be to win series in this league," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "Our pitching staff is pitching well enough to win some games. We made too many mistakes during the course of a game. We need to grow up in a hurry."
The Bulldogs made three errors which led to three unearned runs for the Tigers. On the bases, the Bulldogs were picked off twice and made an additional out trying to advance on an errant throw.
"We need some experience," Cohen said. "Right now, these kids have really had their minds blown by everything that has taken place in the last three weekends. They have been exposed to a lot in a hurry."
MSU had a chance at the early lead when Mitch Slauter and C.T. Bradford began the second inning with back-to-back hits. Instead, each was picked off and the Bulldogs were denied in that at-bat.
Auburn then built a 4-0 lead when the Bulldogs could not turn a double play ball to escape the third inning. Instead, the Tigers mixed four hits and two errors to streak to the early lead.
Down 5-0, the Bulldogs battled back with a pair of scores in the fifth inning. Hunter Renfroe started things with a one-out single. Sam Frost followed with a double. An infield error brought home the innings' first run. After a walk to Matthew Britton loaded the bases, Adam Frazier hit a blooper to center field.
Not knowing if the ball would drop, Wes Rea was late getting to third base. Again, Auburn mishandled the play on the infield, allowing one run to score. Rea was safe at third base but out trying to take home on the play.
After that uprising, MSU managed two hits and two total base runners the rest of the way.
Auburn chased starting pitcher Kendall Graveman (2-1) with two runs in the fifth inning. Graveman allowed eight hits and seven runs (four earned), with two strikeouts and three walks. Caleb Reed followed with 2.1 innings of scoreless relief.
Ben Bracewell returned to the mound for the first time in a month and was touched for two two-out hits and a run in the Auburn eighth inning.
"We need pitchers who can shove the ball in the strike zone," Cohen said. "We had problems getting that in this series."
The Bulldogs finished with seven hits. Slauter and Sam Frost each multiple hits.
The Tigers finished with 12 hits, including three by Justin Bryant. Ryan Tella, Garrett Cooper and Dan Glevenyak each added multiple hits.
Daniel Koger (2-1) pitched six innings for the win. Koger allowed six hits and two runs (both earned). Slade Smith faced one batter past the minimum in three innings of shutout relief to earn his third save.
MSU hosts Mississippi Valley State at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.