AUBURN, Ala. – Will Kendall faced the minimum number of hitters through six innings and the Auburn offense exploded for 10 runs on six hits as the No. 24 Auburn (16-11, 5-3 SEC) baseball team bounced back to defeat Mississippi State, 10-6, and even its three-game series at a game apiece. Auburn will try to claim its third straight SEC series win on Sunday at 1pm.
“Scoring runs in the early innings is a huge help,” Kendall said. “It gets me relaxed and helps my confidence. Our offense did a great job and we had a great game plan going in.”
Kendall, who improved to a perfect 4-0 in five starts, was touched for just two singles through the first six innings, both by Mississippi State (18-10, 3-5 SEC) leadoff man Adam Frazier, who reached base safely in all five of his trips to the plate. That did not faze Kendall, however, as he got a groundball double-play to erase Frazier in the first and Blake Austin threw out Frazier trying to steal second in the fourth.
Kendall hit his first rough-patch in the seventh as Frazier drew a leadoff walk and an error allowed him to score from second. Kendall’s second walk of the inning preceded a single and a sac fly that made it a 6-2 game. He then allowed a RBI single to Wes Rea, ending his day after he allowed a total of four hits over 6 1/3 innings.
Auburn jumped out to a six-run lead after three to take control of the game early. Jay Gonzalez singled, stole second and scored on a wild pitch and a throwing error in the first to make it 1-0.
A bases-loaded groundball double play made it 2-0 in the second and then Gonzalez singled home another run to extend the lead to three in the frame.
“We wanted to come out early and jump on them and get their starting pitcher out as quickly as possible,” Gonzalez said.
The first two hitters in Auburn’s half of the third both reached base, Ryan Tella on an error and Garrett Cooper on a walk, signaling the end of Mississippi State starter Nick Routt’s day. A Cullen Wacker single off of Even Mitchell scored Tella and a wild pitch scored Cooper as Routt (1-4) would be charged for five runs (three earned) on four hits and three walks in two innings to take the loss.
“I challenged our offense today,” Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. “I told them that we were better than what we have been doing. I told them we needed to be a little more opportunistic.”
After Mississippi State narrowed the margin to 6-3 in the seventh, Auburn answered with five extra-base hits in the bottom half of the inning, highlighted by Austin’s three-run home run that made it 10-3.
Mississippi State made things interesting with a three-run ninth off of Jay Wade, who entered in the seventh for Kendall after the Rea single. With two runs in, two outs and men on the corners, Dillon Ortman entered and loaded the bases, allowing a run to score, before getting a strike out to end the game.
Eight of nine Auburn starters finished with hits in the game with Gonzalez, Cooper, Wacker and Zach Alvord all collecting two hits.
Daniel Koger (1-1) gets the start for Auburn on Sunday while Kendall Graveman (2-0) gets the nod for Mississippi State.
Courtesy: AU Media Relations