May 2, 2008
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AUBURN -- Auburn redshirt freshman Grant Dayton struck out a career-high 12 batters over seven innings to lead the Tigers to an 11-4 victory over Mississippi State in the series opener at Plainsman Park Friday. The southpaw scattered four hits allowing four runs, only one of which was earned, while running his record to 7-1 on the season.
Dayton's 12 strikeouts were the most by an Auburn pitcher since March 21, 2002 when Eric Brandon fanned 12 batters in a perfect game against Murray State.
"It all starts on the mound and Grant Dayton was the story tonight," Auburn head coach Tom Slater said. "Grant's got great deception. When he's locating down in the zone and popping the ball it and out like he was tonight, he's tough to beat."
A Huntsville, Ala., native, Dayton improved his SEC record to 6-1, equaling the most league wins by Auburn pitcher since Hayden Gliemmo in 1998.
The Tigers, which improved to 6-2 in SEC openers this season, moved to 25-22 overall, 9-13 in the SEC. Mississippi State dropped to
18-27 overall and 6-16 in league play.
Auburn broke open a 1-1 game plating four runs in the fourth inning, two in the fifth and another in the sixth to take a 8-1 lead.
Catcher Ryan Jenkins hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field in the fourth inning, giving Auburn a 5-1 advantage. Jenkins' two-out homer came after Joseph Sanders and Brian Fletcher score earlier in the frame.
Sanders walked to lead off the fourth and Fletcher doubled before Matt Hall's sac fly plated Sanders. Justin Hargett followed with a single up the middle scoring Fletcher.
Sanders and David Cunningham each had RBI singles in the two-run fifth, while Mike Biannuci's two-out double to left center in the sixth scored Hargett. Hargett led off the sixth with a single to right field.
Mike Bianucci hit his ninth home run of the season, a towering two-run blast to left field in the eighth.
Chad Crosswhite (2-4) took the loss for the Bulldogs after allowing seven runs, six earned, in four innings. Crosswhite surrendered five hits while fanning two and walking three.
Lee Swindle gave up four runs, one earned in four innings of relief for Mississippi State.
Evan Crawford closed the game tossing two scoreless innings for Auburn.
Ryan Collins hit a three-run home run to right field for Mississippi State in the seventh. Collins' third home run of the season came with two outs after Tyler Moore singled and Grant Hogue reached on a fielding error at third base by Cunningham.
The second game of the three-game set is Saturday at 6 p.m. CT at Plainsman Park. A pair of sophomore righties will face off as Auburn's Taylor Thompson (2-4, 6.65 ERA) will square off against Mississippi State's Ricky Bowen (2-5, 7.38 ERA).