March 26, 2011 11:11:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- The rout was on after one inning.
The Mississippi State baseball team scored eight runs in the first inning and five in the second to earn a 15-8 victory against Auburn University on Saturday at Dudy Noble Field.
The win clinched the weekend series for the Bulldogs (17-6, 3-2 Southeastern Conference). MSU is over .500 in the SEC for the first time since it opened the 2009 season with two wins against South Carolina.
Today, MSU will try to earn its first SEC series sweep since 2007, when it swept Auburn in 2007.
Buoyed by ever-reliable pitcher Chris Stratton, the Bulldogs had season-high 21 hits and finished with their second-highest run total since beating Lamar 17-2 on Feb. 20.
"We have older kids who understand what''s at stake, and I think they have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder wanting to show the world we''re a good club in the best league in America," MSU coach John Cohen said. "Those words, when you say them together, mean a lot."
MSU''s monster day at the plate gives it 22 runs in the series. The confidence derived from beating Vanderbilt last Sunday -- after being shut out in the first two games -- has carried over tremendously, infielder Jonathan Ogden said.
"We had a good day yesterday and a great couple of days of practice," said Ogden, who was 3-for-4 with a game-high five RBIs. "We''re still coming off that win against Vanderbilt. It''s given us so much confidence. We all feel good at the plate."
Twenty of the runs MSU scored in the first two games against Auburn have come with two outs.
The improved work at the plate also is an extension of the Vanderbilt series, where players said they faced arguably the toughest pitching staff they''ll see all season. A greater attention to keeping the ball out of the air has been key, first baseman Ogden said.
"We''ve been swinging it well all year; it''s just those routine fly balls we needed to get rid of," Ogden said. "We made some adjustments during batting practice and really focused on hard line drives and ground balls."
Cody Freeman''s two-run single and a three-run double down the left-field line by Ogden sparked the Bulldogs in the first.
Auburn pitcher Will Irvin, who entered the game 3-0 with a 3.70 ERA, didn''t make it out of the first after giving up seven earned runs on seven hits.
"We were making him throw a lot of strikes," MSU first baseman Ryan Collins said. "He wasn''t commanding a whole lot of his off-speed for strikes, so we were jumping on the fastball. It''s amazing how once things get rolling the hits keep coming. Guys just kept jumping on it and attacking it."
The Bulldogs didn''t slow down in the second, scoring on a single by Collins and a two-run shot to left-center field by Jarrod Parks.
Ogden added a two-run home run in the fifth.
"I guess I''ll give credit for another home run to the wind," he said. "I''ll take it, man."
Stratton delivered another solid performance. The sophomore gave up three earned runs on five hits in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked four.
MSU will send junior lefty Nick Routt to the mound today for his second start of the season. Routt was limited to under 50 pitches against Lipscomb two weeks ago, but Cohen hopes to get between 65-70 pitches today.
On Friday, Freeman''s RBI single in the bottom of the ninth gave MSU a 7-6 victory, its first walk-off win of the season.
The Bulldogs scored seven runs after two were out to win its conference home opener.
With a tie score in the ninth inning, Wes Thigpen led off the inning with a base hit to right field. After a sacrifice-bunt by Jaron Shepherd, Nick Vickerson couldn''t advance the runner after grounding out to third base. Freeman then lined a 1-2 pitch to left center, scoring pinch runner Sam Frost with the game-winner.
Thigpen had three hits, while Vickerson and Daryl Norris added multiple hits. Vickerson was caught stealing, snapping his streak at 17 straight stolen bases.
1. New Hope turns to Olsen to return soccer program to prominence HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS