April 15, 2018
AUBURN, Ala. - Trailing 4-0 in the sixth inning, Auburn's offense exploded for seven runs on five hits, highlighted by Brendan Venter's go-ahead, three-run home run, to lead the Tigers to a 7-5 series-clinching win against Mississippi State at Plainsman Park on Sunday afternoon.
Brett Wright got the Auburn offense on the scoreboard with a RBI double off the wall in left field before Venter put the Tigers out in front for good with a three-run home run off the top of the brick column that supports the scoreboard in left-center.
The win was the largest comeback victory for Auburn (25-12, 6-9 SEC) since coming back from five runs down against UAB earlier this season. It was also the team's second straight series win against Mississippi State (19-18, 5-10 SEC).
"We really needed that," head coach Butch Thompson said. "They've been beat up pretty good. Hopefully we get some momentum going. Winning a series in the Southeastern Conference can do that. This keeps us in the thick of things."
Right-hander Tanner Burns was effective through the first four innings before Mississippi State got on the scoreboard on an RBI double by Jake Mangum that got up in the wind and carried away from Jay Estes in center field. Luke Alexander homered to left-center to extend the lead to 3-0, and Auburn went to Cody Greenhill (2-1, 1.45) out of the bullpen. The Russellville, Ala., native pitched the final 4.1 innings and earned the win.
The appearance was Greenhill's second longest of his freshman campaign behind his 4.2 innings of relief against Northeastern. He allowed two runs on five hits and didn't issue a walk while striking out a season-high five batters.
"I felt like they came out swinging," Greenhill said. "I felt like I could go and I did. I think we need to keep swinging the bats and having fun with it. In the next couple of weeks, we just need to have a good time and play and we'll be right back in the mix."
For Mississippi State, reliever Cole Gordon (2-2, 5.88) suffered the loss after relieving starter Jacob Billingsley and allowing four runs on three hits and one walk. Gordon failed to record an out.
With one away in the sixth, seven straight Auburn hitters reached base and all scored in the frame. After Steven Williams was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second, Wright sent a RBI double off the wall in left field. Williams scampered home on a wild pitch to cut the Bulldogs' lead to two before Venter deposited the aforementioned full-count pitch off the scoreboard. Two batters later, freshman Judd Ward sent a rocket down the line in right field to score Luke Jarvis from first. Ward came home on a RBI groundout from Estes to conclude the scoring in Auburn's fourth inning of seven or more runs this season.
For the Tigers, seven starters reached base in the win. Venter collected multiple RBI for the sixth time, while Wright and Ward each turned in a pair of hits. Ward's multi-hit effort on a double and RBI triple was his second of the week.
The Tigers are now 18-0 when scoring five or more runs in a game this season and 14-0 when scoring four or more runs in an inning.
Auburn returns to action on Tuesday against UAB for the second annual Bark in the Park game. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. CT, and the game will be available on SEC Network+.