FINAL: MSU 15, No. 22 Auburn 8

The buzz: MSU’s bats remained hot, as it pounded out a season-high 21 hits and earned its first SEC series win since taking two of three from Tennessee last season. It’s only the fourth series win under third-year coach John Cohen.

Big inning: The game started with a bang in the first inning, when State racked up eight runs on nine hits. Six of those runs came with two outs, and the scoring started when Friday night hero Cody Freeman stroked a two-run single. Auburn starter Will Irvin (3-1) was pulled with two outs.

Key stats: Going back to Sunday’s 9-8 win at Vandy, 21 of MSU’s last 24 runs have been scored with two outs, including 13 of today’s runs; MSU committed three errors but turned two double plays; Auburn committed just one error but gave up four unearned runs.

MSU at the plate: Seven Bulldogs had two or more hits, led by senior Ryan Collins, who was 4 for 4 (all singles) with two RBIs. Senior Jonathan Ogden had three hits, including a two-run homer, and five RBIs. MSU struck out only four times.

Auburn at the plate: The Tigers managed 11 hits and had spotty success against MSU starter Chris Stratton (4-1). They posted a three-run fifth inning and then declined to go quietly in the ninth, scoring four times and forcing Cohen to bring in Caleb Reed to put out the fire.

MSU on the mound: Stratton wasn’t his sharpest, but he lasted 7.1 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits, striking out five and walking four. He threw 118 pitches before giving way to freshman Evan Mitchell, who got two outs and yielded two hits. Freshman Hunter Renfroe struggled, facing six batters in the ninth without getting an out.

Auburn on the mound: Irvin was tagged with seven runs (all earned) on six hits, throwing 28 pitches to nine batters. Slade Smith was charged with eight runs on 12 hits over 4.1 innings, and Dillon Ortmon had three innings of shutout ball.

Bottom line: MSU has a chance to earn its first series sweep of an SEC opponent since 2007, when it took three from … Auburn, at home. Just the fourth league series win under Cohen has MSU looking like a team that’s truly made big strides under his watch.

Quotable: “We had a good day yesterday, we’ve had a great couple of days of practice. We’re still coming off that win against Vanderbilt, man. It’s given us so much confidence. Everything is going well for us.” – Ogden

Up next: Sunday’s finale is set for 1:30 p.m., and Cohen said junior Nick Routt will make the start, his second of the season and first since the opening SEC weekend of last season. Cohen hopes to get 60-70 pitches out of Routt.

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