Seven-run sixth lifts Auburn to series win
AUBURN | No. 21 Auburn busted out if its conference slump in a big way Sunday afternoon at Plainsman Park.
The Tigers scored seven runs in the sixth inning to erase a 4-0 deficit and beat Mississippi State 7-5 in the rubber game of the series. Brendan Venter provided the biggest hit of the inning with a three-run home run.
“Our boys needed that, seven runs, and Brendan Venter needed it and our team needed it, it’s the bottom line,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “That’s a team win.”
Auburn improves to 25-12 overall and 6-9 in the SEC with its first series win since taking 2-of-3 from Texas A&M to open conference play. The Bulldogs fall to 19-18 and 5-10.
The Tigers’ big sixth began with a one-out single by Will Holland. Steven Williams reached on a hit-by-pitch and then Brett Wright brought Holland home on a double off the left field wall to chase MSU starter Jacob Billingsley.
Edouard Julien walked to load the bases and then Williams scored on a wild pitch by Cole Gordon. Venter, who stepped up to the plate with just one hit in his last 26 SEC at-bats, blasted his seventh home run of the season off the scoreboard in left center to give the Tigers a 5-4 lead.
“It means a lot,” said Venter of his teammates pouring out of the dugout following his home run. “Our team is so close. Everyone loves everyone and we want the best for everyone. When things haven’t been going our way we’ve been trying to stick together. To see that, I don’t really have any words for it."
A single by Luke Jarvis, RBI triple by Judd Ward and RBI groundout by Jay Estes gave Auburn two more insurance runs. Wright and Ward had two hits apiece for the Tigers.
Cody Greenhill (2-1) earned the win holding the Bulldogs to two runs on five hits over the final 4.1 innings. The freshman right-hander struck out five and didn’t issue a walk.
“That’s huge for Cody Greenhill. That’s only the second time he’s been in an SEC ballgame,” Thompson said. “I just think there’s something powerful about getting the last out in an SEC ballgame, that you can kind of put a notch in your belt.”
Auburn starter Tanner Burns allowed three runs on five hits in 4.2 innings with four strikeouts and one walk.
Auburn was batting .195 in 14 SEC games coming into Sunday’s contest. The seven runs are the second-most runs the Tigers have scored in a conference game this season.
“We’re at the halfway point and we’ve got 15 more games to play,” Thompson said. “I think this team has a chance to get back and get hot again, but one inning don’t make a comeback or get you situated. We’ve have to keep pushing.”
Third baseman Josh Anthony had to leave the game in the ninth inning due to an illness.
Auburn hosts UAB Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT on SECN+ and WatchESPN. The Tigers return to SEC play next weekend at Alabama.