Down on the plains at Plainsman Park on the campus of Auburn University, it would be a rubber match between the hometown Auburn Tigers and the visiting Mississippi State Bulldogs. Heading into the weekend, Mississippi State and Auburn needed a series win to continue the momentum into the second half of the Southeastern Conference schedule. Both programs struggled early in the season but have found the perfect match of baseball as of late. With two programs fighting for postseason life, many expected the series to deliver a magical weekend of baseball for Southeastern Conference Baseball fans. Auburn won the first game on Friday night 2-1 over Mississippi State. On Saturday, the Mississippi State Bulldogs responded with an explosion of offensive firepower for an 11-10 win over Auburn.
With the split on Friday and Saturday, Sunday’s rubber match would be a massive opportunity for Mississippi State and Auburn to earn a game over the other program in the standings with four weeks remaining.
Mississippi State opened Sunday with a two-run first inning that would give the Bulldogs an early edge over Auburn. In the top half of the second inning, Hunter Hines would launch a three-run homerun to deep right field to extend the Mississippi State lead to 5-0 over Auburn. Colton Ledbetter wanted in on the Mississippi State scoring fun with a double to left field that would add two Bulldogs across the plate to push the lead over Auburn to 7-0 in the third inning. Cooper McMurray wanted in on the fun for Auburn as he blasted a three-run shot down the right field line to cut the Mississippi State lead to 7-3 at the end of the 4th inning.
In the top half of the 5th, Mississippi State would score two batters after two passed balls to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 9-3 heading to the bottom half of the 5th inning. Auburn would suffer a zero on the scoreboard in the 5th inning to keep the Mississippi State lead at 9-3 heading to the 6th. Nothing for Mississippi State in the top of the 6th would leave the door cracked for an Auburn comeback in the bottom half of the inning. In the bottom half of the 6th inning, Cooper McMurray for Auburn would shake things up with a two-run home run down the left field line to cut the Mississippi State lead to 9-5. With Caden Green on base, Nate LaRue would send a moon shot to left center field to cut the Mississippi State lead to 9-7, heading to the top half of the 7th inning.
Mississippi State would drop a massive zero place on the scoreboard again in the top half of the 7th. Auburn would jump at the door left wide open in the bottom half of the 7th by adding a run to cut the Mississippi State lead to 9-8. Auburn would load the bases with two outs, but it was an impressive pitch sequence from Nate Dohm to retire the side and strand the Tigers with bases loaded in the bottom half of the 7th. Colton Ledbetter would open the 8th inning for Mississippi State with a standup triple with zero outs. Kellum Clark would knock a line drive base hit to left field to score Ledbetter to make it 10-8 Mississippi State with two outs in the top half of the 8th. However, the one run scored in the top half of the 8th would be all Mississippi State would score in the 8th. Bryson Ware would blow the roof off Plainsman Park with a monster three-run shot to left field to give Auburn their first lead at 11-10 over Mississippi State.
Mississippi State would head to the 9th inning down by one run facing a massive blow to the postseason hopes for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State would earn a triple to start the inning to make things interesting for the Bulldogs. A line drive hit to the Auburn third baseman would score the Mississippi State runner at third following an error. Colton Ledbetter would pop up to the shortstop to end the top half of the 9th with an 11-11 tie. Auburn would have Nate LaRue, Chris Stanfield, and Cole Foster due in the bottom half of the 9th. Mississippi State would hit Nate LaRue with a wild fastball to give Auburn a runner on first with zero outs. Chris Stanfield would drop down a sacrifice bunt to advance LaRue to second to give the Tigers a runner-in-scoring position. With a 0-2 count to Cole Foster, Mississippi State would give Foster a fastball down the middle of the plate, where Foster hammered to right field to score the runner at second. Auburn would beat Mississippi State 12-11 to take game three and the series from the Bulldogs.
For Mississippi State, Sunday’s loss to Auburn was about as deflating as it comes. Mississippi State had the game won with a 7-0 lead over Auburn, but the bullpen once again let Mississippi State down, and the Bulldogs are heading back to Starkville with another loss.
Auburn was down as much as 7-0 to Mississippi State in the later parts of the game on Sunday. However, in front of a nearly sold-out crowd at Plainsman Park, Auburn would rally to defeat Mississippi State 11-10. Coach Butch Thompson never let his Auburn Tigers get down, they kept attacking Mississippi State, and in the end, Auburn was too much for the visiting Bulldogs. Auburn’s thrilling win over Mississippi State was the 4th largest comeback in the last five years of Southeastern Conference Baseball.