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April 19, 2013

AU splits first two games against MSU


The Auburn baseball team ended Friday night with a split, picking up a 3-1 win in the regularly scheduled game against No. 10 Mississippi State while falling, 6-3, in Friday's resumed game. With both results, Auburn is now 24-15, 6-11 SEC while Mississippi State is 31-10, 9-8 SEC.

"A lot of emotions, you don't know what to feel right now," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "We beat ourselves in (Thursday's) game and I challenged our team in (Friday's) game. I said if you want to win in this league you have to play defense. That first game that we played today, that was our best defensive effort. I can't tell you how many great plays Mitchell Self and Jordan Ebert made. Michael O'Neal and Terrance Dedrick did a great job but without our defense we are not in that position."

Patrick Savage drove in a pair of runs while O'Neal silenced the Mississippi State bats for seven-plus innings as the Auburn baseball team earned a 3-1 win on Friday night at Dudy Noble Field.

O'Neal moved to 8-2 with the win, becoming Auburn's first pitcher to eight wins since Grant Dayton finished the 2010 season at 8-3.

"I just tried to throw strike one and get guys out early in the count to go deep in the game," O'Neal said. "I kept the ball down and got them to hit into double plays when we needed it."

O'Neal went seven-plus innings, scattering five hits and four walks while not surrendering a run for the third time in 10 starts, recording his sixth quality start this season. The southpaw was aided by clutch defense behind him as Auburn turned an inning-ending double play off the bat of Wes Rea to finish the sixth with the bases loaded and then got Daryl Norris to hit into a double play in the seventh.

Mitchell Self also came up with big plays at short behind O'Neal, most notably retiring the speedy Demarcus Henderson to end the second with two in scoring position and then getting Nick Ammirati at home as he tried to score from second on and Adam Frazier up the middle to end the seventh.

Auburn capitalized on a pair of Mississippi State errors to pick up the win, its first at Dudy Noble Field since the series finale in 2009. Cullen Wacker, who was 2-for-2 with a walk and a sac fly, singled and scored in the first on a Savage single after Garrett Cooper reached on a throwing error by Mississippi State pitcher Kendall Graveman.

Two innings later it was Savage driving in Wacker again with a single, stretching the Auburn lead to 2-0.

Wacker drove in Tella in the fifth with a sac fly that made it 3-0.

Terrance Dedrick earned his fourth save of the season by getting the final six outs. He entered in the eighth after O'Neal issued a leadoff walk to Alex Detz and retired the first three hitters he faced.

Mississippi State avoided the shutout with a run in the ninth. C.T. Bradford doubled to lead off the inning, went to third on a groundout and scored on a Nick Ammirati single. Mississippi State would put the tying run at first with two outs but Dedrick got a groundout off the bat of Alex Detz to finish the game.

Graveman (5-3) took the loss, allowing three runs (one earned) on 10 hits and a walk while striking out five in seven innings.

Auburn and Mississippi State needed to play the final two innings of Thursday's game following the completion of the Friday game, Trailing 6-3 with one out in the bottom of the seventh, Auburn couldn't muster a hit off of Mississippi State reliever Jonathan Holder, who earned his 12th save of the season.

Auburn's Conner Kendrick (2-2) took the loss while Ross Mitchell (7-0) earned the win out of the Mississippi State bullpen.

The two teams will play the rubber game of the series at 4pm on Saturday.

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