AUBURN, Ala. (Auburn Athletics) – Junior right-hander Casey Mize dazzled yet again as he tossed his second complete-game of the season and led No. 21 Auburn to a 2-1 win against Mississippi State Friday night at Plainsman Park.
Mize (7-1, 2.00) allowed just one run on five hits with no walks and nine strikeouts. The complete-game was the Springville, Ala., native’s fourth of his career, and the outing was his sixth straight quality start, all of 7.0 innings or longer.
The win was Auburn’s third straight against Mississippi State, which marks the team’s longest winning streak against the Bulldogs since 2010. The Tigers improved to 24-11 overall and 5-8 in Southeastern Conference play in front of a near sellout crowd of 3,831. Mississippi State fell to 18-17 overall and 4-9 in league action.
“To finish this thing on 106 pitches, it was just so efficient,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “(Casey) left the ball up a little in the fifth and sixth but settled down. The seventh, eighth and ninth, those balls were going straight into the ground, and he stepped up when his team needed him most. To me, the biggest difference was the fans showing up. They showed up and they were a force tonight. They showed up to have our back, and that’s part of the Auburn Family that I just love.”
Mississippi State threatened to score early and Jake Mangum hit a leadoff single, stole second and attempted to score on a single from Hunter Stovall. However, Jay Estes scooped and fired from shallow center field to get Mangum at the plate and provide a big momentum boost for the Tigers going to the plate.
Auburn got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second inning after Bright Wright led off the frame with his eighth double of the season into the deepest part of the ballpark. Wright advanced to third on a wild pitch and later scored on a Brendan Venter’s sac fly to the warning track in center field.
The Tigers tacked on another run in the third inning after Estes ripped a leadoff double down the left-field line. Later in the inning, Will Holland delivered a two-out base hit through the left side to extend the Auburn lead to 2-0. The two-out RBI was Holland’s 13th of the season.
Mississippi State cut the Tigers’ lead in half in the top of the sixth after Jake Mangum, who reached on a wild pitch after a strikeout to start the inning, scored on a Tanner Allen triple. However, with one out and the tying run 90 feet away, Mize induced a pair of ground balls back to the mound to preserve the lead. He went on to retire the final 11 Bulldog hitters he faced and need only 23 pitches to get through the final three frames.
“It felt really good” Mize said. “Efficiency is something I take pride in just throwing strikes, letting the defense work, or punching guys out. I don’t like walking guys, I try to shove the ball in the zone and that’s what happened.”
Opposite Mize, Mississippi State starter Konnor Pilkington (2-5, 2.57) took the loss after throwing 7.2 innings and allowing two runs on four hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
Holland picked up his team-best 30th RBI of the season with his third-inning single, while Venter added his 22nd. Of Wright’s 24 hits this season, 16 have gone for extra bases, giving him a .622 slugging percentage. The redshirt-junior backstop has reached base in 13 straight games.
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