STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – After building a 5-0 lead, the No. 2 Mississippi State baseball program saw No. 16 Auburn storm back with six unanswered runs over the final four innings to take the series opener, 6-5, on Friday (March 22) night in front of 10,029 fans at Dudy Noble Field.
A quality start from redshirt-junior Ethan Small wasn’t enough for State (20-3, 2-2 SEC), as Auburn (20-2, 4-0 SEC) rallied with six unanswered runs over the final four innings. Small fanned seven Tigers in six innings of work and allowed two runs on three hits. His seven strikeouts pushed his career total to 200.
The Tigers made the most of their opportunities, collecting six hits off four MSU relievers – including two for extra bases. The Bulldog bullpen didn’t walk a batter and struck out four. Junior Colby White (1-1) took the loss with two runs allowed in one inning of work.
At the plate, sophomore Jordan Westburg reached base four times, chipping in a pair of hits, walking one and reaching via hit-by-pitch. Sophomore Justin Foscue doubled to plate two RBIs in the game and reached on a wild pitch following a strikeout. He scored two runs in the game, as well.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis
On what he saw from starting pitcher Ethan Small
“[He was] just competing. His stuff has been a little more electric maybe in some of the earlier games in the year. He just had good stuff tonight but he just competes, puts the ball in the zone. We got him a lead early and then he ran with it through those middle innings.”
On what he wants to see from his team tomorrow
“Just come out and compete. The good thing about our sport is 12 hours later we will be right back out here playing. We have JT Ginn on the mound and we have a really good ball club. There is another good ball club in that other dugout. In our league, you have to have short term memory and be able to come right back out and play hard. We played hard tonight, I don’t fault our guys. We just came up on the other end of it.”
Redshirt-Junior Ethan Small
On what the team has to do tomorrow
“It means you’ve got to show up tomorrow and put it behind you and know that tomorrow is a new day. Our team is good enough to beat that team, it will come really comes down to whoever plays better is going to take it.”
Ethan Small – In his sixth start of the season, Small struck out seven to push his career total to 200. He worked six inning and allowed two runs on three hits.
Jordan Westburg – Was on base four times, going 2-for-3 with a walk and hit-by-pitch. Scored one run.
Justin Foscue – Reached base twice, doubling and reaching via wild pitch on a third strike. Scored twice and drove in two RBIs.
10,000+ – Dudy Noble Field saw its 50th crowd of 10,000-plus, as 10,029 fans packed the New Dude for the series opener.
Rankin Woley – Went 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored and one RBI.
Deuce’s Wild – Two was the magic number for the Tigers, as back-to-back solo home runs got the scoring started in the sixth, before scoring two runs in both the seventh and eighth innings.
The first six State batters reached base, with Jake Mangum leading off with a single, before being erased on a Jordan Westburg fielder’s choice. From there, Tanner Allen and Elijah MacNamee walked to load the bases, before Westburg came in to score the opening run on a wild pitch. Justin Foscue pushed the next two runs across with a two-RBI double and Dustin Skelton’s RBI single made 4-0 in favor of the home team.
Mississippi State 4, Auburn 0
A pair of miscues led to the fifth run if the game for the Diamond Dawgs, as Foscue reached on a wild pitch following a third strike and came all the way around to score on a two-out error by the Auburn center fielder on a ball hit by Josh Hatcher.
Mississippi State 5, Auburn 0
Back-to-back home runs from Steven Williams and Rankin Woley cut into the MSU lead, but Ethan Small was able to get out of the inning without further damage.
Mississippi State 5, Auburn 2
Jared Liebelt entered for MSU in relief of Small and the Tigers put the first two on base via single and double. Matt Scheffler and Will Holland followed with infield groundouts to close the gap to just one run.
Mississippi State 5, Auburn 4
Much like the seventh, a new State pitcher was greeted with back-to-back hits, as Colby White gave up a single and an RBI double before striking out the next two hitters. Kason Howell then singled through the right side of the infield and Auburn took the lead, 6-5.
Auburn 6, Mississippi State 5
The eight-game homestand continues with a 2 p.m. first pitch against Auburn on Saturday, March 23. Saturday’s game will be the program’s Salute to Service game, featuring various pregame ceremonies beginning at 1:45 p.m. The pregame festivities will also feature a flyover before first pitch, so be in your seats early.
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