AUBURN, Ala. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - A seven-run sixth inning proved too much for the Mississippi State baseball team to overcome Sunday afternoon.
No. 24 Auburn erased a four-run deficit with that big inning to take a 7-5 victory in the rubber game of a three-game Southeastern Conference series at Plainsman Park.
MSU fell to 19-18 overall and 5-10 in league play, while Auburn improved to 25-12 and 6-9.
"We were pleased with our starting pitching the entire series," MSU head coach Gary Henderson said. "We got three good starts. We played well defensively the entire series. We didn't manage the sixth inning well at all. There were too many freebies and then too many two-strike base hits. It was a bad inning.
"For the most part, we are an improved offensive team. We had good at-bats all weekend. We are taking too many fast balls early in the count. We need to be more aggressive early in counts. We out-hit them in all three games. That is improvement."
After taking a 7-2 victory in the middle game of the series, things looked promising for the Bulldogs to take a second straight conference series when the Maroon and White built a 4-0 lead.
After being held to two runs in each of the first two games of the series, the Tigers collected seven runs on five hits in the big sixth inning.
MSU started the scoring with three runs in the fifth inning.
Tanner Poole started things with a one-out single. Jake Mangum followed with an RBI-double to left field with two outs for the game's first run. Luke Alexander followed with a two-run home run to left center.
In the sixth inning, the Bulldogs expanded that lead when Justin Foscue and Marshall Gilbert had back-to-back doubles with two outs in the inning.
Jacob Billingsley drew the start for the Bulldogs. Billingsley was lifted with one out in the sixth inning, after allowing five hits and three runs (all earned), with seven strikeouts and no walks. Cole Gordon did not record an out, while facing four batters in relief.
Gordon (2-2) was touched for a three-run home run by Brendan Venter which gave the Tigers a 5-4 lead. Luke Jarvis followed with a single and Judd Ward tripled.
Zach Neff relieved Gordon and worked the Bulldogs out of the sixth inning after a ground ball out scored the inning's final run.
Neff worked until one out in the eighth inning when Blake Smith took over.
In the MSU ninth inning, Josh Hatcher had a pinch-hit double. Rowdey Jordan followed with an RBI-single. A pair of outs followed with Jordan being stranded at first base.
MSU finished with 10 hits. Mangum was the team's lone multiple hitter.
Auburn finished with eight hits. Brett Wright and Ward each had two hits. Cody Greenhill (2-1) picked up the win in relief.
Next up for State is a day trip to Memphis on Wednesday, April 18 for at 6:30 p.m. CT first pitch against the Memphis Tigers at AutoZone Park.