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MSU beats Auburn, 15-8, to take series

STARKVILLE — An eight-run first inning kickstarted a season-best 21-hit performance as Mississippi State routed Auburn 15-8 in a Southeastern Conference baseball game played Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.

With the victory, the Bulldogs snap a six-series losing streak in conference play. The Bulldogs last won a weekend series on April 18th of last season by taking two of three contests against Tennessee. The Maroon and White last won the first two games of a weekend series in 2009 at Ole Miss. A win Sunday would give MSU its first weekend sweep the College World Series-participant Bulldogs took all three from this same Auburn club in 2007.

With its third straight win against a ranked opponent, the Bulldogs improved to 17-6 overall and 3-2 in league play — good for sole possession of second place in the Western Division standings. Auburn lost its third straight, falling to 14-9 and 2-3.

“We have scored 22 runs in back-to-back games,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “Last Sunday (a 9-8 win at No. 2 Vanderbilt) was huge for us. Coming back on a staff like Vanderbilt has given us the confidence that has propelled us to this weekend. I thought we hit the ball well today.”

While the Bulldogs only managed nine runs in the entire Vanderbilt series last weekend, the Bulldogs had that many on the scoreboard with two outs in the second inning Saturday afternoon. The Maroon and White batted 13 and scored eight in the opening at-bat — the second-best half-inning of the 2011 campaign.

“The confidence carried over from yesterday,” MSU senior shortstop Jonathan Ogden said. “When you win a Friday night game in this league, it can set the tone for the entire weekend. We came to the ballpark ready to play today.”

The Bulldogs also continued a mighty fine theme established in the series opener. In a 7-6 win Friday night, MSU scored all seven of its runs with two outs in three different innings. On Saturday, the Bulldogs tallied 13 of their 15 runs with two outs. Ironically, the Bulldogs again scored in three at-bats Saturday. The monster first inning included six two-out runs.

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