AUBURN, Ala (EETV) - After going down early, Auburn (23-16-1, 7-11 SEC) fights and claws back to an eventful finish, winning in walk off fashion. Taking down Mississippi State (23-17, 6-12 SEC) 12-11 to win the series.
“I’m just proud of them to keep fighting through everything that happens,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “If this is the new way this game is played, I’m the one who has to adjust more. They just need to keep fighting and find their opportunities when they can have success.”
State comes out hot right out the gate, scoring seven unanswered runs in the first three innings. Zach Crotchfelt (0-2) got the start for the Tigers. Crotchfelt only lasted an inning and a third after walking four batters and giving up four runs; three earned. Will Cannon (2-1) was then called on to calm things down. Cannon immediately gave up a 3-run blast to Hunter Hines to put the Tigers down five. Cannon went on to pitch three innings giving up five earned runs in eight hits. With one out in the fifth and Cannon on the bump, catcher Nate Larue had two passed balls in a row to bring in two more runs for the Bulldogs.
Cooper McMurray put the Tigers on the board in the fourth with a 3-run moonshot off the foul pole in right, after Ike Irish and Bryson Ware reached on a couple of singles. McMurray would then hit another homer (2-run) in the sixth, McMurray with five RBI's on the day and eight on the weekend. This was McMurray's fourth home run of the series. State decided to go to the pen following the blast, after starter Jurrangelo Cijntje went 5.0 IP giving up five earned runs off eight hits, fanning six. The Tigers took this opportunity to strike two more runs on the board and bring State's lead to just two with the Tigers second 2-run home run of the inning. This time by LaRue, his first bomb of the year.
The Tigers scratched another run in the seventh after State reliever Graham Yntema walked Irish before hitting Ware and McMurray. Yntema was pulled after three batters for Nate Dohm, who gave up a sac fly to Kason Howell but escaped with minimal damage in his first inning of work. The next inning was a different story. After a single from Bobby Pierce and a double from Irish, Ware drove a go-ahead three run shot over the wall in left.
Coach Thompson gave Konnor Copeland (2-1) the ball after Cannon. Kopeland took control of the game as soon as he stepped on the hill and held on to it for the win. Kopeland threw 4.1 strong innings allowing two runs all unearned in just three hits. With a one run lead going into the ninth Kopeland gave up a double to Amani Larry putting the tying run in scoring position. Aaron Downs then hit a fly ball to center moving Larry to third. Kopeland then got a ground ball to third base, but Ware struggled to glove it and had no play at first, allowing Larry to cross the plate and tie the game.
In the bottom of the ninth State reliever Aaron Nixon hit the leadoff batter LaRue. Stanfield then laid down a sac bunt to put LaRue into scoring position. The very next batter Cole Foster sent a line drive to the gap in right-center scoring the run and walking it off.
“Throughout the game I was trying to shorten up and have the shortest swing on a big pitch,” Foster said. “That’s what I finally ended up doing. I was sitting offspeed because that pitcher throws a lot of offspeed and then I realized I haven’t hit a fastball all weekend, why wouldn’t he throw me that? So I shortened up, got my hands through, got a barrel to the ball and I was happy with what happened. I’m glad we got the win.”
This series win was huge for the Auburn Tigers keeping them just above the Bulldogs in the SEC west. The Tigers will be back in action at home against Troy April 25. at 6 C.T.