No. 24 Auburn Drops Friday Night Decision To Mississippi State, 5-3
AUBURN, Ala. – Two of the five runs that the No. 24 Auburn baseball surrendered to Mississippi State were unearned and they proved to the difference in a 5-3 loss on Friday night at Plainsman Park. The loss dropped Auburn’s record to 15-11, 4-3 SEC and extended the team’s losing streak to three games.
“You expect games to be close and our team knows in those close games the magnitude of each play, each pitch. Defensively we had three big miscues that really hurt us tonight,” Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said.
Riding the arm of starter Chris Stratton (6-0), who struck out eight over seven innings, Mississippi State (18-9, 3-4 SEC) capitalized on a first-inning error that helped push two runs across and an eighth-inning error that provided the game-winning run. Stratton would allow eight hits on the night but was aided by a defense that committed just one error, it also leading to a run, and turned a crucial inning-ending double play in the eighth as Auburn was poised to tie the game at 4-4.
Auburn starter Derek Varnadore (1-3) threw his fifth quality start of the year but again came up on the wrong end of the decision, getting tagged for three runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks, striking out six, his most since fanning 11 in the season opener, which was also his only win of the year.
Caleb Reed got the final six outs to record his sixth save of the season, entering with men on first and second in the eighth, none out and the score already a one-run game at 4-3. After surrendering a sac bunt that put the runners in scoring position, he got Garrett Cooper to fly out to right. Auburn elected to send Creede Simpson, the SEC steals leader, home from third on the play but Mississippi State right fielder Brent Brownlee threw a bullet to home which enabled catcher Mitch Slauter time to apply the tag to end the inning.
The two teams traded two runs in the first as Mississippi State used a walk, an error, a single and a run-scoring double-play to go up 2-0 on Varnadore. Auburn answered by taking advantage of the first of two Jay Gonzalez doubles on the day, singles from Cullen Wacker and Cooper and a Mississippi State error to tie it at 2-2.
Mississippi State reclaimed the lead, 3-2, in the sixth as Hunter Renfroe doubled and scored on a sac fly.
Mississippi State upped the lead to 4-2 as C.T. Bradford reached on a two-base error by Gonzalez in right, went to third on a passed ball and scored as Auburn catcher Caleb Bowen, who threw out two runners on the night, threw low and wide of third, allowing Bradford to come home.
Auburn closed the gap to 4-3 in the eighth as Gonzalez again doubled and scored on a Tella single before Mississippi State’s double play ended the frame.
Mississippi State sealed the win with a ninth-inning run off of Slade Smith, collecting three consecutive two-out singles for the 5-3 advantage.
Auburn will try to even the series at 3pm on Saturday when it sends LHP Will Kendall (3-0) to the mound. Mississippi State will counter with LHP Nick Routt (1-3).
Friday’s game was delayed by an hour due to rain before the first pitch and then had a 23 minute rain delay after the conclusion of the fifth inning.