The No. 24 Auburn baseball team claimed its third straight Southeastern Conference series with a 8-2 win over Mississippi State on Sunday behind six strong innings from freshman Daniel Koger. The win improved Auburn’s record to 17-11, 6-3 SEC and marks the first time Auburn has opened up the conference season with three straight wins since 2003.
“We had some really big two-out hits,” Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. “We scored the majority of our runs with two outs. It’s not the way you draw it up but we will take it. Those guys committed to what we wanted to do today and yesterday and I am glad to see the success they have had the last two days.”
Koger, who had recorded three straight quality starts without a win, finally got an abundance of offensive support as Auburn pounded out 12 hits and drew five walks off of the Mississippi State (18-11, 3-6 SEC) pitching staff. The lefthander faced just one over the minimum through four and finished the day allowing six hits over six innings with a walk while striking out three to move to 2-1 on the year, earning his first win since Feb. 25 at No. 8 Arizona.
“I felt good early on,” Koger said. “I started to wear down a little bit but it was a good day. I was locating it well and I was throwing the inside pitch really well.”
Auburn meanwhile used clutch hitting to score its eight runs, collecting 11 two-out hits and driving in six of its eight runs with two outs. Third baseman Justin Bryant, making his first start in the field this season, had three of the two-out hits and also drove in two runs, doubling in a run in the third that put Auburn up 4-0 and then singling in a run in the eighth that stretched the lead to 8-2.
“From the first pitch on I really tried to lock in on the outside part of the plate because that was where they tried to pitch me all weekend. I was just trying to put the ball in play the other way and they ended up coming in a few times and I was able to get the bat on it,” Bryant said.
Auburn used a four-run third to take a lead it would never surrender. Garrett Cooper’s two-out double scored a pair and then Cullen Wacker reached on an error that allowed Cooper to score from third before Bryant drove in Wacker.
A Creede Simpson fielder’s choice stretched the lead to 5-0 in the fourth before Mississippi State got two back in the top of the fifth. Hunter Renfroe singled and scored when Wes Rea reached on an error and Sam Frost doubled and scored on an Adam Frazier fielder’s choice to cut the lead to 5-2.
The score didn’t stay that way for long as Auburn loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth and Dan Glevenyak drove in two with a single to left for the 7-2 lead, ending Mississippi State starter Kendall Graveman’s (2-1) day after he surrendered seven runs (four earned) in 4 2/3 innings.
Slade Smith threw the final three innings, allowing just one hit, to pick up his third save of the season. All three of his saves this season have been three-plus innings.
Ryan Tella, Cooper, Wacker and Glevenyak each finished with two hits for Auburn.
Auburn returns to non-conference action on Tuesday at 6pm when it plays host to Jacksonville State at Plainsman Park.
Courtesy AU Media Relations