By Chris Burrows
AUBURN Under overcast skies at newly renovated Plainsman Park, the Mississippi State Bulldogs put together flashes of two-out lightning Friday night to blow out the Auburn Tigers 8-0.
“We got some timely hits at the early, important points of the game,” said MSU head coach Ron Polk, whose club won the opener of a three-game road SEC series for the first time this season. “I thought we were really ready to go tonight.”
The initial power surge came in the fourth inning when David Hayman crushed a two-out, 1-2 pitch for a two-run homer. Hayman’s 10th homer turned out to be enough to carry the Bulldogs.
“David (Hayman) had really been pressing,” Polk said. “He got a hanging curve and he got all over it. It was a big hit for him and us.”
Damian Scioneaux removed any doubts in the sixth inning with a two-out triple that plated Brian Clark and Mark Power.
Combined with the four-hit pitching by right-hander David Hooten, the Bulldogs improved to 27-13 overall and 12-7 in the SEC Western Division race, keeping the pressure on leader LSU and second-place Alabama.
“After we got ahead, David (Hooten) did a good job of pumping strikes in there,” Polk said. “Last week, he was SEC pitcher of the week and he just kept it going.”
Auburn, a club battling to be one of the final entries in the upcoming eight-team SEC Tournament, fell to 25-15 overall and 8-11 in head coach Hal Baird’s 900th career game.
The Tigers spent four pitchers hoping to slow the attack, but MSU tacked on a run in the seventh inning and a pair of runs in the eighth.
Richard Lee had an RBI double, followed up an inning later by RBI hits from Blake Anderson and Adam Piatt, the club’s hottest hitter in the past week.
Hooten, in his second complete game in 12 starts, struck out five and walked two. No Auburn hitter had more than one hit and only two players reached scoring position.
“Any time you win the opener on the road, it’s important,” Polk said. “We’ve still got to take care of our own business, but it’s a good start.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE 8, AUBURN 0
MSU 000 212 120 8 14 1
Auburn 000 000 000 0 4 1
WP – David Hooten (7-5). LP – Bryan Hebson (6-3). Multiple hits – (MS) Brian Clark 3, Adam Piatt 2, Damian Scioneaux 3, Ben Jenkins 2. 2B – (AU) Chad Wandall. (MS) Adam Piatt, Richard Lee. 3B – (MS) Damian Scioneaux. HR – (MS) David Hayman. Records: Mississippi State 27-13, 12-7. Auburn 25-15, 8-11. Attendance: 1,747. Time: 2:36.
Notes: The second game of the series begins today at 5 p.m. …In the past 15 games, MSU is 12-3. …Sophomore infielder Adam Piatt is 15-for-26 (.577) in the past seven games. …Tupelo’s Dustin Dabbs walked in the ninth inning in a pinch-hitting appearance for MSU.