April 14, 2006
AUBURN, Ala. -
Auburn spotted Mississippi State three runs in the top of the first inning but the Tigers stormed back with three runs of their own in the bottom of the frame and tacked on four more in the fourth en route to a 9-4 series opening win over the No. 8 Bulldogs on Friday night at Plainsman Park. All nine starters got a hit for the Tigers while Paul Burnside earned his second win in four outings as the Tigers moved to 17-20, 5-8 SEC.
"Anytime you give up runs early, to be able to come back and answer is huge. And to put up a zero defensively after you score is also huge," AU Head Coach Tom Slater said. "That is five great outings in a row for Paul Burnside and I couldn't be prouder of him or the defense behind him."
Burnside entered the game in the fifth in relief of starter Brett Butts and proceeded to get out of a bases loaded, one-out jam to preserve Auburn's 7-4 lead. After allowing a walk to the first batter he faced, Burnside would allow just two meaningless singles to Bulldog hitters while striking out four to move to 2-0 on the season. He has now thrown 14.1 innings of relief in SEC play and has not allowed an earned run.
Offensively the Tigers, who had 15 hits, 14 of which were singles, were led by Luke Greinke, who went 3-for-4 with a run and two RBIs. Tyler Johnstone, who collected Auburn's only extra-base hit, a double, Mike Bianucci, Justin Bristow and Jonathan Rasberry each finished with two hits.
"Everyone swung the bats and we kept scoring runs. Whenever they put pressure on us, we came back and scored more runs and that always helps the pitching out," Greinke said.
Johnstone's RBI double in the fourth proved to be the game-winner as it scored Russell Dixon and Bristow, who had each singled after Greinke led off the inning with a base-knock.
After allowing three runs on two home runs in the top of the first, Auburn knotted the game at 3-3 as Andy Bennett (1-for-3, Sac Fly, R, 2 RBI) singled home Jeff Boutwell (1-for-5, 2 R) from second. Greinke then singled in Josh Donaldson (1-for-3, R) and Bennett to bring the Auburn crowd back into the game.
MSU (25-8, 6-6 SEC) scored a single run in the third on Thomas Berkery's second home run of the game to take the lead at 4-3.
Bulldog starter Brooks Dunn (6-2) took the loss, allowing seven runs on nine hits in 3.0 innings, the shortest outing by a MSU starting pitcher this season.
The Tigers and Bulldogs will play the second game of the three-game set beginning at 4 p.m. CT on Saturday. Freshman lefty Evan Crawford (4-4) gets the call for the Tigers while MSU counters with junior righty Josh Johnson (4-2).