FINAL: MSU 7, No. 22 Auburn 6

The buzz: MSU came through in the clutch, with Cody Freeman‘s two-out single to left-center scoring the winning run in the form of pinch runner Sam Frost. It was Freeman’s only hit of the game. The win evens MSU’s SEC record at 2-2 (16-6 overall), and the Bulldogs got it despite another poor outing by starting pitcher Devin Jones.

Big inning: The ninth, of course. Wes Thigpen started it off with an opposite-field single, then Frost entered and went to second on Jaron Shepherd‘s sac bunt. After a Nick Vickerson groundout to third, Freeman stepped up and ripped a 1-2 slider for the win.

Key stats: MSU was 4 of 10 with runners in scoring position, while Auburn was 3 of 12; Auburn’s pitchers issued no walks but hit two batters.

MSU at the plate: State got 12 hits, four of them in a four-run second inning to go up 4-0. There were four extra-base hits, including a two-run homer by Thigpen for a 6-5 lead in the sixth. He had three hits and a hit-by-pitch.

Auburn at the plate: The Tigers (14-8, 2-2) had eight hits, including a solo homer by Justin Fradejas to lead off the seventh and tie the game at 6-6. Fradejas had two RBIs, while Cullen Wacker had two hits, one of them a double.

MSU on the mound: As mentioned, Jones was roughed up, allowing four runs on three hits in three-plus innings, and he threw two wild pitches. On one, he failed to cover home, and the baserunner scored easily from third. The relievers were pretty solid, combining to yield two runs on five hits in six innings. Most impressive was Chad Girodo (2-0), the final hurler, who retired all five batters he faced, three via strikeout.

Auburn on the mound: Starter Cory Luckie was touched for six runs on eight hits in six innings, but the loss went to Zach Blatt (1-2).

Bottom line: MSU is showing the kind of pluck it didn’t always have last season. Freeman said the dugout was calm after blowing the four-run lead, and obviously the Bulldogs did big things at crunch time at the plate and on the bump.

Quotable: “Cody’s been swinging so well all year, and even when he has a bad at-bat, you have a great feeling he’s going to come back strong and get good swings.” – MSU coach John Cohen, on Freeman’s big hit

Up next: Game 2 is set for 2 p.m Saturday, weather permitting. MSU right-hander Chris Stratton (3-1, 2.38 ERA) will face off against Auburn righty Will Irvin (3-0, 3.70), who played juco ball at ICC.