April 3, 2009
STARKVILLE, Miss. -
Joseph Sanders' ninth-inning, three-run home run to left turned an almost certain loss into an unlikely win on Friday night as Auburn scored six times in the ninth to win 9-8 at Mississippi State. The win was Auburn's first on a Friday night in Starkville since 1995.
"That's a big victory for us," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "I told the guys before, we are never out of a game. We have to keep battling and good things will happen. The guys played with a lot of confidence in the ninth inning and that is pretty exciting for us."
Sanders' home run capped a 3-for-6, four RBI night for the junior third baseman, who delivered his team-leading 12th home run with two outs in the inning as Auburn (19-9, 5-5 SEC) came from behind to win for the ninth time this season.
"I was looking for a pitch to hit there in the ninth. (Chad Crosswhite) got the better of me in the inning before by striking me out on some low curveballs. He threw three of them (in the ninth) and I stayed off of them and I got a fastball out and I was able to get it out."
Tony Caldwell also had a big night for Auburn, going 3-for-5 with a double while throwing out two Mississippi State runners on stolen base attempts. His first-inning single extended his hitting streak to six games and he is now 14-for-24 (.583) during the streak with two doubles, a home run, seven RBI and seven runs scored and he has also now thrown out 15 base runners trying to steal.
Austin Hubbard earned his fifth save of the season, facing five hitters in the bottom of the ninth, allowing his two inherited runners from Bradley Hendrix to score but no more than that, stranding the tying run at third.
Chad Crosswhite (0-3) took the loss for Mississippi State, allowing all six ninth-inning runs, working two full innings and surrendering six hits, four in the ninth, and two walks while striking out two.
Down 6-3 and with one down in the ninth, Ben Jones
singled down the left field line and went to third on Brian Fletcher's
ground-rule double down the line in right. Casey McElroy's
RBI groundout made it 6-4 but also put two outs on the board. Kevin Patterson
worked a 10-pitch walk, fouling off four straight pitches, to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in Justin Hargett
. The sophomore second baseman delivered his second hit of the night, a single the left side, scoring Fletcher easily from third and allowing pinch runner Chezz McCann
to make it to third. Mississippi State left fielder Ryan Collins was unable to pick up the ball cleanly, allowing McCann to race home with the tying run.
With the game tied, 6-6, and the go-ahead run on second, Trent Mummey drew a six-pitch walk, bringing Sanders to the plate, who delivered the team's 18th hit of the night, a season-high, and the team's 59th home run of the season, which is seventh all-time in school history.
"We had some of our best at-bats in the ninth inning," Pawlowski said. "That at bat by Kevin Patterson was just phenomenal, he kept fouling balls off and he found a way to draw a walk out of that situation. Just huge at bats by Sanders, Hargett, Ben Jones putting one down the line, those are really quality at bats."
Mississippi State (15-14, 3-7 SEC) did not go down quietly in the ninth, putting the first two runners on off of Hendrix before Hubbard was summoned from the pen. The junior walked the first hitter he faced to load the bases before striking out Russ Snead for the first out of the inning. A Scott DeLoach single to right made it 9-7 and then Ryan Duffy grounded into a RBI fielder's choice to make it 9-8. Hubbard then coaxed seven-hole hitter Ryan Collins into a routine groundout to short to end the game and cement the Auburn win.
Michael Hurst (2-0) threw the eighth inning for Auburn, allowing a run on one hit with a strikeout to pick up the win.
Auburn squandered a chance in the first to break the game wide open and instead settled for a 1-0 lead after a half-inning of play, putting together four straight singles but coming away with just the one run. Sanders hit a one-out single to right, went to third on Hunter Morris' single to right-center and scored on Caldwell's single to center. Jones, who also extended his hitting streak to six games, followed with a single through the left side to load the bases but Mississippi State starter Tyler Whitney got Fletcher and McElroy to strike out swinging to end the threat.
Sanders' two-out, RBI double to the wall in right-center scored Mummey all the way from first, staking Auburn to a 2-0 lead after one-and-a-half. The double was Sanders' team-leading 11th of the year and his fifth against SEC pitching, temporarily tying him for the most in the league.
Mississippi State got a run back in the second, loading the bases with none out but only managing a single run off of Auburn starter Grant Dayton on Luke Adkins' sac fly to center that scored Snead, who had walked to lead off the inning.
Mississippi State was poised to tie the game in the bottom of the third after Cody Freeman's one-out triple to center but Dayton whiffed Connor Powers for the second out and before Hargett made a diving stop on a ball in the hole to his left to throw out Snead to end the inning.
Adkins' third home run of the year tied the game at 2-2 in the fourth. Only the arm of Caldwell prevented Mississippi State from taking its first lead of the game as he gunned down his second MSU runner trying to steal second in the game for the first out of the inning, relegating Adkins to just a solo homer.
Mississippi State was able to take its first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth on Connor Powers' RBI single that scored Ryan Powers from third. Another spectacular defensive play by Hargett limited the damage to just a single run as this time he dove to his right to snag a DeLoach ball headed back up the middle with two on and two out, throwing the five-hole hitter out at first to keep Auburn down just a run at 3-2 after five complete.
Auburn tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the seventh on Jones' RBI single that scored Morris. It appeared that Auburn had taken the lead two hitters later on McElroy's double to the base of the wall in dead center but the relay throw in from shortstop Ryan Powers to the catcher DeLoach beat Jones to the plate trying to score from first and the right fielder was called out by home plate umpire Jacob Asher despite the fact that it looked like Jones avoided the tag.
Connor Powers' two-out, two-run home run off of Dayton in the bottom of the seventh gave Mississippi State the lead back at 5-3.
Neither starting pitcher was particularly efficient as both surrendered double-digit hits with Dayton surrendering 11 and Whitney 10, though they did combine to strikeout 17, eight by Dayton and nine by Whitney. Dayton was on the hook for the loss, allowing five runs in seven innings, before the offense bailed him out.
Auburn finished the game with a season-high three stolen bases, one each by Mummey, Fletcher and Hargett.
Auburn will try to clinch the series at 2pm on Saturday when it sends R-Fr. RHP Jon Luke Jacobs (3-0, 4.78 ERA) to the hill. He will be opposed by Mississippi State Fr. LHP Nick Routt (3-1, 2.79).
Auburn 9, Mississippi State 8 (Apr 03, 2009 at Starkville, MS)
Auburn.............. 110 000 106 - 9 18 0 (19-9, 5-5 SEC)
Mississippi State... 010 110 212 - 8 15 1 (15-14, 3-7 SEC)
Win-Michael Hurst(2-0) Save-Austin Hubbard(5) Loss-Chad Crosswhite(0-3) T-3:39 A-6110
HR AU - Joseph Sanders (12).
HR MSTATE - Connor Powers (6); Luke Adkins (3).
Box Score in PDF Format