STARKVILLE, Miss – With two eliminated at the bottom of the ninth, Bryson Ware he eliminated the potential draw at the pot and Auburn’s number 17 won the series finale at Mississippi State, 3-2, on Saturday at Dudy Noble Field.
“We needed one,” head coach Butch Thompson She said. “We tried to tell our boys that the man or woman who never gives up is hard to beat. We stayed there.”
The win marked Auburn’s 13th win this season.
“I was really interested in this game three with Joseph going on, and we got over a lot,” added Thompson. “Rescue is not a word I want to hear. We fought and clawed for one. Three of the last four weeks we have been traveling in the SEC and this tough team stays above .500 in this tough and tough championship at the halfway point.”
SEC Launcher of the Week in Charge Giuseppe Gonzalez (5-0, 2.01) turned another gem, earning the win as he kept Mississippi State two points on seven no-walks hits and six strikeouts in 8.0 innings.
“It was pretty much the same plan as last week which was to jump into the zone and trust my things,” said Gonzalez.
Under 2-0 to six innings, Auburn (24-12, 8-7 SEC) scored two points to equalize the game at the top of the seventh first Brooks Carlson drove in the winning run on a pinch hit RBI, doubling down on the right field line to score Bobby Peirce and take a 3-2 lead in the eighth.
“It was a great way to end a game and a series,” said Carlson. “Even though we only got one, it was huge for our confidence to come back with a road win in the SEC.”
After the green light at the top of the eighth, Gonzalez withdrew the Bulldogs at the bottom of the frame to finish his outing. He scored his third consecutive quality start in as many league games.
Auburn left two runners at the top of the ninth and Blake Burkhalter went into prominence to close his eighth best SEC game of the year.
Mississippi State (21-16, SEC 6-9) equalized a walk ahead and moved the runner to second on a sacrifice bunt. Burkhalter then landed a strikeout to record his second home run before the dramatic final play. Brad Cumbest hit a drive line to the left and Ware loaded, picked up and fired Nate La Rue to the plate, tagging the runner just in front of his slide.
“I knew he hit him hard enough and that I had a chance to take him home, but I had to charge him hard enough,” Ware said. “The grass was slippery and slipped through my fingers, but luckily I lowered it enough to make it arrive in time.”
It marked the first time Auburn has won a match making the final at the pot since 2017.
“We had a couple of chances at the top of the ninth,” added Thompson. “Ware was eliminated, but then he never gave up. I’ve never been prouder of a kid from Mississippi who comes back and takes a shot right there.”
Mississippi State jumped ahead for a third consecutive day, scoring over a pair of solo homers from Hunter Hines and Kellum Clark in the second inning.
The Tigers boarded six base runners in the first four innings, including two base runners with one out in the first and third, but failed to take advantage of early opportunities.
Gonzalez retired 13 of the next 16 hitters he faced after solo homers with a hitter who hit a miss.
Auburn had his best opportunity to enter the rankings in sixth place. Cam Hill scored a double advantage and Brody Moore drew a walk with Hill moving into third place on a wild field. However, Mississippi state holder Cade Smith came out unscathed from the inning.
After Gonzalez worked his second straight net inning in the sixth, Auburn broke through and equalized the game with two points at the top of the seventh. Kason Howell began scoring with an RBI brace left, his 13th of the season, and the Tigers equalized the game when Hill found a hole in the inside to score Howell from second.
Gonzalez bypassed some traffic on the base courses in the seventh, blocking a couple of runners to keep the score tied, 2-2, with a ball on the ground at the end of the inning.
The Tigers took advantage of a runner ahead when Peirce put a ball on the ground that sneaked into the right field to start the eighth. LaRue sacrificed Peirce in second place and the Tigers took the first lead of the game over Carlson’s RBI brace, ultimately proving to make a difference.
Auburn will return to Plainsman Park for five games next week, starting with a couple of midweek games against Alabama State and Kennesaw State on Tuesday and Wednesday at 6pm CT.