‘All’ being an announced attendance of 14,562 which watched Mississippi State take the rubber game from Auburn. With their third-straight series success the Bulldogs are 32-10 and 10-8 SEC, while the Tigers are 24-16, 6-12. They left Dudy Noble Field having played their part before a crowd topped only by the 1989 NCAA campus-record of 14,991 which still stands.
“We’ve got some of the best fans in the nation and I’m just happy to pitch for Mississippi State,” said Lindgren.
Diamond Dogs were thrilled how Lindgren (4-1) threw this must-win rubber game. He essentially shut down and literally shut out a Tiger order that had scratched and clawed and given other MSU moundsmen fits for two games. In fact it was scouting the first two contests which helped this former Friday starter shine on day-three.
“I always have plan, and watching Kendall (Graveman) and Luis (Pollorena) pitch gave me a good idea of all I needed to do.” Which was work Auburn’s order ‘backwards’ with sliders followed by fastballs. The result was just five hits allowed over 8.0-plus innings, two walks, and a career-high eleven strikeouts.
“Lindgren did a heck of a job today,” said C Nick Ammirati, who had best view of the proceedings. “That’s SEC-caliber stuff right there.”
It was certainly an outing worth nominating for league pitcher of the week. Once Lindgren got through the first couple of frames and left the bases loaded in Auburn’s second inning, he was in command. In the third-through-eighth the Tigers mustered only a single single, in the fourth inning, with the only other reaches on an error, walk, and plunking.
“I felt good, I was just trying to attack their hitters and let my defense make plays,” Lindgren said.
“Jacob was phenomenal,” said Coach John Cohen. “He was a little shaky early on, it was a tough strike zone and he had to deal with it. And I thought he did a really nice job of attacking the strike zone.” Coming after the Tigers was simpler too because Ammirati was in-synch with his pitcher.
Auburn did get a one-out hit in their first inning, only to lose him on an odd double-play. As Cullen Wacker struck out Jordan Ebert was thrown-out at second on his steal try. The real test for Lindgren came in the second with another one-out hit. An out later Damek Tomscha doubled, with Renfroe holding the lead runner at third on a strong throw. Lindgren loaded the bases by walking Hunter Kelley, who’d been a pain to State pitching all weekend in the eight-hole.
Mitchell Self went down swinging on a hard slider to strand everyone.
“I really have to give a lot of credit to Nick, he called a good game,” Lindgren. “He caught two games before so he had a good idea what he was doing.”
Auburn starter Will Kendall had his own ideas, just not a lot of luck with them. He tried the same in-and-out location as the previous Tiger lefties in games one and two. This time the Bulldogs had their timing down early enough to score in each of the first three innings and establish control. Kendall (0-5) lasted 2.1 innings with five runs on five hits, two walks and a strikeout.
Mississippi State needed to make an early offensive point in the swing game, and a leadoff single by SS Adam Frazier was a good starting point. Luck helped too; 3B Alex Detz didn’t cover on a run-and-hit and Frazier was caught mid-path. He managed to scramble back to the first base as Auburn mishandled their rundown.
State used the break, as RF Hunter Renfroe singled for runners on corners with one out. 2B Brett Pirtle cranked a one-hopper that glanced off shortstop Mitchell Self’s glove for the day’s first run. It could have and likely should have been more as a walk of 1B Wes Rea loaded the bases. Kendall survived with a called strikeout and pop-up.
But more was to come as State added a second-inning score. Ammirati stayed hot for the series and led off with a single, taking second on a wild pitch. This allowed LF Demarcus Henderson to bunt him to third base. With two outs a hit or something else was needed for the score, and State got the ‘something’ because Kendall again missed the mitt and Ammirati came across.
It was the third inning that broke Auburn’s back. Kendall walked Renfroe to open it, and with one out plunked Rea. A single to short left by CF C.T. Bradford loaded it up again. AU reliever Justin Camp inherited the jam, as well as a pinch hitter. Because with a righthander on the hill Trey Porter took over at DH, and did his job with a fly ball to rightfield scoring Renfroe.
“That was a huge RBI sac-fly,” Cohen said. But this time the Bulldogs didn’t stop at a single score. Ammirati got his biggest hit of the weekend, a single through the right side for two RBI and the 5-0 lead. “I think it was a fastball,” Ammirati said.
The margin was more than sufficient as Lindgren sat 11 of 12 Tigers in one stretch, and eight-straight through the eighth inning. The strikeouts stood out but there was excellent glove support, such as when Pirtle went way to the off-side for a diving stop and throw back from his knees for the tough out.
Camp went 3.2 innings before Daniel Koger took over in the seventh and went 1.2 innings. He put the last scoring Dog on in the eighth as Ammirati got plunked. A walk pushed him into scoring position and with two down Frazier made the final margin of MSU victory with his double down the right side.
Lindgren wanted to complete his win of course, and Cohen said he could throw the ninth until somebody made base. That was the leadoff Tiger with a single. State had an interesting relief dilemma because three righthanders had warmed earlier, then sat down for almost an hour and couldn’t re-heat safely. So the closer in games one and two got the call. Jonathan Holder was not razor sharp as expected and allowed a hit and walk to load bases.
But he also sealed the shutout with strikeouts of the eight and nine batters, giving him ten fannings for the three appearances.
State got more base hits for the first time in this series, nine to six, with only Ammirati collecting a pair. The senior backstop was 6-of-11 for the series, best on the squad. Patrick Savage was 3-of-4 in the losing cause.
Thanks to playing the SEC’s early series of this week the Bulldogs have Sunday off, a much-needed break. Because the week ahead only intensifies with all road games. It begins Tuesday against Memphis in AutoZone Park, and goes on to league-leading Vanderbilt for the weekend.