An eighth-inning error by Mississippi State baseball’s Ross Highfill was the difference in the Bulldogs’ 2-1 loss at Auburn Friday night to begin a crucial three-game weekend Southeastern Conference series.
With the game tied at one, Highfill, a true freshman catcher, tried to throw out Auburn’s Chris Stanfield, who tagged from first after Highfill completed a sliding catch in foul territory on a sacrifice bunt attempt. Highfill’s throw hit Stanfield in the helmet, allowing him to go to third. Stanfield then scored on a Bobby Peirce sacrifice flyout to center on the next at-bat off MSU’s Nate Dohm.
The Bulldogs managed one baserunner in the top of the ninth on a pinch-hit Bryce Chance walk, but couldn’t force extra innings.
MSU (22-16, 5-11 SEC) struck out a season-high 14 times in the game, 10 of which came against Auburn starting pitcher, Tommy Vail, who tallied a career-high 10 punchouts in five shutout innings.
Equally as impressive as MSU starter Cade Smith, who struck out six, a season high, in six innings. Smith had a no-hitter through four innings before allowing a first-pitch home run to Auburn’s Cooper McMurray to begin the fifth.
The Bulldogs tied the game in the top of the seventh when David Mershon beat out an infield single to second with two outs to score Amani Larry from second base.
MSU and Auburn (22-15-1, 6-10 SEC) return to the diamond on Saturday at 2 p.m. (SEC+). Colby Holcombe (2-2, 5.32 ERA) will start for the Bulldogs against Auburn’s Christian Herberholz (0-3, 5.74)
Justin Frommer is the Mississippi State sports reporter for The Dispatch.
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