From the Auburn University Athletics Department:
AUBURN, Ala. – Two solo home runs and an RBI double proved to be all the offense Mississippi State would need in a 3-0 win over Auburn on Friday night at Plainsman Park.
The Tigers (25-21, 9-13 SEC) fell for just the third time this season in an SEC series opener as Auburn managed just five hits off three pitchers for Mississippi State (29-18, 12-10) and left eight runners aboard, including six in scoring position.
"You've got to tip your cap to them," Auburn head coach Sunny Golloway said. "They hit some balls hard. I thought we pitched well on the front end, but we got a couple of off-speed pitches up that they hit out of the ballpark. That's kind of new for me here at Plainsman Park, I haven't seen the ball carry to right-center field like that. But those balls were hit well.
"It comes back to timely hitting. They are going to pitch a little bit different when you have men in scoring position, and they did. They spun it a little better. They went mainly fastball until they got men in scoring position and then they'd spin it and spin it pretty well."
Senior Dillon Ortman (8-3) was charged with just his second loss in SEC play despite his eighth quality start in eight league games. He gave up three earned runs on six hits while striking out three and walking just one in 7.1 innings.
The Tiger bullpen held the Bulldogs to just one hit over the final inning and two-thirds. Senior Reid Carter pulled Auburn through a tight spot in the ninth as Mississippi State loaded the bases with no one out and threatened to break the game wide open, but Carter got a strikeout, a lineout and a fly out to hold the Bulldogs off the board and give Auburn some momentum headed to the bottom of the ninth.
Auburn's first two hitters reached base in the ninth, bringing the tying run to the plate in pinch-hitter Sam Gillikin. After a tough at-bat, he was robbed of a potential run-scoring base hit on a stellar leaping grab by MSU second baseman Brett Pirtle for the first out. A double play one batter later ended the Auburn threat and the ballgame.
"Gillikin had a good at-bat for us there in a key moment," Golloway said. "Who knows, if that gets over their head, how it tightens up and changes the game. They've got the number one defensive percentage for a reason. They made some good plays."
Mississippi State took a 2-0 lead after five innings on a pair of solo home runs – C.T. Bradford in the fourth, Cody Brown in the fifth. They were the first two home runs surrendered by Ortman this season and the first two by an opponent at Plainsman Park in SEC play.
The Bulldogs added one more in the eighth on an RBI double by Bradford, scoring Matthew Britton all the way from first to make it 3-0.
Auburn had its chances all night as the Tigers got runners into scoring position in six of nine innings, but the Tigers stranded eight total base runners on the night.
Daniel Robert, Blake Austin, Anfernee Grier, Jordan Ebert and Brett Binning had one hit apiece.
Bradford led the Bulldogs with a 3-for-4 night. Four other players had one hit apiece. Trevor Fitts (4-2) got the win for MSU with 5.1 scoreless innings, scattering five hits and striking out three. Jonathan Holder picked up his sixth save of the year with a scoreless ninth.
Game two of the weekend series is set for a 6 p.m. start Saturday at Plainsman Park. Freshman Keegan Thompson is slated to get the start for the Tigers. The game will be televised on CSS and ESPN3.com with Matt Stewart and Joe Beckwith on the call.
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