AUBURN, Ala. - No. 21 Auburn fell behind after allowing a five-run third inning and couldn’t make up the deficit as the Tigers dropped game two of the three-game series against Mississippi State, 7-2, Saturday afternoon at Plainsman Park.
The Tigers move to 24-12 on the season and 5-9 in Southeastern Conference play. Mississippi State improves to 19-17 and matches Auburn at 5-9 in league play.
“We have to keep working” head coach Butch Thompson said. “We need to come back and understand that tomorrow is the defining game in the series that we need. We’ve got to look each other in the eye, execute the ballgame and find a way tomorrow.”
Auburn starter Davis Daniel (2-3, 5.35) retired eight of the first ten batters he faced before Mississippi State strung together a two-out rally and scored five runs in the top of the third. Hunter Stovall singled to center to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 advantage, and Marshall Gilbert hit a bases-clearing double to right center to extend the lead.
Opposite the Auburn sophomore, Mississippi State left-hander Ethan Small (3-3, 2.94) earned the win. The southpaw tossed 7.0 innings and allowed two runs on four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Auburn answered Mississippi State’s big inning with a pair of runs in the home half of the third. Jay Estes led off the frame with a bunt single before coming home on a RBI single from Steven Williams. The freshman right fielder advanced to second on a fielder’s choice and later scored on a RBI single from fellow freshmen Edouard Julien to cut the Mississippi State lead down to three.
However, the Bulldogs answered right back on a pair of RBI single in their next at-bat to extend the lead back to five.
Redshirt-senior southpaw Andrew Mitchell came on for Daniel in the fourth and pitched 5.0 innings of effective relief as he allowed just one run on four hits with six strikeouts and one walk. The outing was Mitchell’s longest appearance since also throwing 5.0 innings against Arkansas last season.
Auburn threatened in the eighth after Williams ripped a single into left field and Brendan Venter reached on a strikeout and wild pitch to give the Tigers two runners on with two outs. However, Mississippi State reliever JP France got a fly out to center field to escape the jam and retired the Tigers in order in the ninth to end the game.
Julien and Williams matched the team lead with 30 RBI as each drove in a run in the Tigers’ two-run third inning. Williams collected two or more hits in a game for the 11th time this season. Holland’s lead-off double in the first was his team leading ninth of the season. Jay Estes reached base three times for the Tigers.
Tomorrow’s series finale is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT and will be available on SEC Network+. Auburn will send freshman right-hander Tanner Burns (2-4, 2.29) to the mound against Mississippi State’s Jacob Billingsley (2-2, 3.93).