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Auburn drops one to MSU

The Auburn University baseball team took the field for the opening round of the NCAA Division I College World Series June 16 and lost a heartbreaker to the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Leading 4-1 going into the bottom half of the ninth inning at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., the Tigers needed only three outs to advance into the winner’s bracket in the double-elimination tournament. However, Mississippi State rallied with four runs in the inning to steal victory away from the Tigers.

Russellville’s Cody Greenhill and Judd Ward both got the opportunity to play in the contest in front of more than 22,000 fans in attendance.

Greenhill pitched two-thirds of an inning in relief, allowing one hit and no runs. He struck out a batter and walked one while throwing 17 pitches in the appearance on the mound. Ward batted in the leadoff spot and started in left field.

Auburn (38-27) scored first in the second inning when Eduoard Julien hit a two-run home run off of MSU starter Ethan Small. Small, a first-round pick by the Milwaukee Brewers in this year’s MLB Draft, struck out the first five batters he faced before Auburn found success off of the left-hander. Julien then made the score 3-0 in the fourth inning with an RBI single.

Jack Owen got the start for Auburn and went five scoreless innings before the Bulldogs got a couple of runners on base off of the lefty in the sixth, and Elliott Anderson came on in relief.

An RBI single by Gunner Halter followed, and Greenhill then entered the game with runners on first and second, with one out and a 3-1 lead. The sophomore got a strikeout and then hit the SEC all-time hits leader Jake Mangum with a pitch before getting Jordan Westburg to lineout to right field to end the inning.

The Tigers added a run in the top of the eighth when an error on a throw to third, after a Steven Williams single, brought home Will Holland to make it 4-1.

Mangum started the bottom of the ninth with a double off of Richard Fitts, and then Auburn went to Tanner Burns out of the bullpen. Burns struck out Westerburg but walked Tanner Allen before Elijah MacNamee brought him home with a double to make the score 4-2.

Justin Foscue grounded out for an RBI to bring the Bulldogs to within a run. Then Dustin Skelton hit a grounder to third baseman Julien for what looked to be the game’s final out. However, Julien’s throw to first was wild, and the error brought home MacNamee to tie the score.

A walk and an infield hit followed, and with bases loaded and two outs, Marshall Gilbert singled up the middle off of the glove of Burns to bring home the winning run.

Auburn is set to play Louisville June 18 in an elimination game;  Mississippi State (52-13) faces Vanderbilt in the winner’s bracket June 18 in Omaha.

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