Brownlee, an outfielder for the Mississippi State baseball team, returned to the lineup for the first time since March 3 and had a critical eighth-inning throw out at home plate, helping preserve the Baseball Bulldogs' 5-3 win over No. 24 Auburn Friday night at Plainsman Park.
MSU won a Southeastern Conference series opener for a second straight weekend. With the win, MSU improved to 18-9 overall and 3-4 in league play. Auburn fell to 15-11 and 4-3.
Once again, MSU pitching was the story of the night. Chris Stratton (6-0) notched another quality start, allowing eight hits and three runs (two earned). The Tupelo native stuck out eight and walked one.
All-American Caleb Reed closed out the Tigers to earn his 18th career save. Reed is now a perfect six-for-six in save opportunities this season.
"Chris Stratton went out there and did what we need him to do on a Friday night," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "He threw strikes into the zone and attacked the batters. He only had one walk. That is what you need. Caleb Reed then comes in and slams the door after that."
The Bulldogs held a 4-3 lead in the home half of the eighth inning when Brownlee threw a strike to catcher Mitch Slauter to get the final out of the inning, taking out the potential game-tying run. A critical insurance score in the ninth gave Reed some breathing room, as he worked around a walk before completing the win.
"Brent goes out there and guts it out today," Cohen said. "He plays solid outfield for us and made a really great play there in the eighth inning. Those are the types of plays that win a game on a Friday night in this league. I am so proud of Brent. He came back a lot quicker than anyone thought."
The start of the contest was delayed an hour due to rain and again in the sixth inning 23 minutes for another shower.
Each team scored twice in the first inning. The tie was broken in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Matthew Britton. MSU turned a pair of Auburn errors into a critical insurance score in the eighth inning. An RBI-single by Trey Porter placed the Maroon and White in good shape in the ninth inning.
The series resumes at 3 p.m. Saturday.