AUBURN The oldest of baseball axiom claims good pitching stops good hitting. You could sure prove that this weekend by Mississippi State.
For the second straight game, Ron Polk’s Bulldogs got a brilliant starting pitching performance, this time from Keith Dilgard, and blew by Auburn 10-3.
“We’re pitching very well, obviously,” said MSU’s Polk, whose club got an 8-0 win from David Hooten Friday night. “We’ll give the ball to Eric (DuBose) for the next one and see if he will keep it going for us.”
The Saturday night win, before the largest crowd to see a baseball game at Auburn 2,953 in brand-new Plainsman Park put MSU in position to go for the sweep today in the 1 p.m. series finale.
The Bulldogs improved to 28-13 overall and 13-7 in the SEC Western Division, tightening the race with LSU and moving ahead of Alabama into second place. Auburn, which came into the series on a three-game winning streak, fell to 25-16, 8-12.
Dilgard, throwing only 98 pitches, gave up single runs in the first, fifth and eight innings. He allowed only eight hits and was never in serious trouble. Improving to 3-2, it was the junior’s first complete game for the Bulldogs.
“Keith kept getting ahead to give him pitching counts that favored us,” explained pitching coach and associate head coach Pat McMahon. “Our defense made the routine plays.
“Auburn’s got the kind of offense that lends itself to being able to get ahead in the pitch count, too. Once our own offense got going, Keith was really in control.”
Mississippi State scored at least one run in each inning after the fourth, with exception of the eighth. The Bulldogs clubbed nine extra-base hits in that five-inning offensive surge, including homers by Richard Lee and Mark Power.
Along with Lee and Power, Rob Hauswald (3-for-3) and Adam Piatt drove in two runs apiece. Brian Clark had three wall-rattling doubles. Every slot in the MSU batting order except the leadoff spot had at least one hit or scored one run.
Catcher Blake Anderson, one of six Bulldogs with at least one extra-base hit, said, “We’re playing well, but the starting pitching has really been good for the past few series.
“Keith was hitting the spots and was never out of the game mentally. This gives us the series and puts us in great shape going into tomorrow (Sunday).”
MISSISSIPPI STATE 10, AUBURN 3
Miss. State 000 321 202 10 13 0
Auburn 100 010 010 3 8 3
WP – Keith Dilgard (3-2). LP – Ryan Halla (5-3). Multiple hits – (AU) Dallan Ruch 2; (MSU) Rob Hauswald 3, Brian Clark 3, Mark Power 2, Adam Piatt 2; 2B – (AU) Dallan Ruch, Mark Weeks; (MSU) Mark Power, Blake Anderson, Adam Piatt, Brian Clark 3; 3B – (MSU) Rob Hauswald; HR – (MSU) Richard Lee, Mark Power. Records: Mississippi State 28-13, 13-7; Auburn 25-16, 8-12. Attendance: 2,953. Time: 2:30.
Notes: MSU outfielder Mark Power had the first homer of his career, a solo blow in the seventh inning. … Auburn starting pitcher Ryan Halla suffered a right elbow injury in the fifth inning and is expected to be out for the season.