AUBURN, Ala. - Mississippi State overcame two deficits on its way to a nine-inning victory at No. 17 Auburn on Saturday to tie the series with the Tigers with a 5-4 win.
Josey Marron earned the win in relief, throwing 7.0 innings without allowing an earned run. Along the way, she struck out seven and entered the MSU all-time top five for strikeouts in a season by a freshman (93).
Chloe Malau'ulu was the extra-innings hero, delivering an RBI single in the top of the ninth.
"Chloe just comes in clutch for us time and time again," head coach Samantha Ricketts said. "She's such a good leader, and I think she's really learned how not to put the pressure on herself to feel like she always has to be the one. She's out there just trying to have her teammates' back. I mean after Nadia bunted, all she'd be saying all game was 'I got your back. I got your back.' I thought she did a great job there of not getting too big and just finding a way to get a barrel on the ball to pick up a run for us."
State (28-23, 7-15 SEC) scored first on an RBI single from Jackie McKenna in the second inning, but Auburn (38-16, 14-9 SEC) immediately answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame.
Madisyn Kennedy hit a two-run homer for the second straight day in the top of the fourth to retake the lead, but Auburn answered in the bottom of the inning with a sacrifice fly. The Tigers took the lead in the fifth with the help of an error on a first-and-third play, but the Bulldogs did not back down.
After Saleyna Daniel beat out a sacrifice bunt attempt at first to load the bases, McKenna lined a singled off the third baseman's glove to tie the game in the top of the sixth.
Marron then retired the Tigers in order in the sixth and seventh to send the game to extra innings.
After going down in order in the eighth, MSU played small ball to rally for a victory.
Brylie St. Clair chopped a single through the infield before Riley Hull laid down a bunt that was not handled cleanly. Nadia Barbary bunted the runners to second and third before Malau'ulu singled up the middle to score St. Clair.
Marron then calmly recorded two more strikeouts before a lineout to right ended the game.
Samantha Ricketts on Aquana Brownlee sparking scoring innings... "She's been really consistent all year long for us. You need a big bat to protect some of those hitters in the lineup, and she's been that consistent one for us. I love to see her finding her way on and giving us a chance to drive her in all throughout the game."
Samantha Ricketts on Josey Marron's season strikeout total... "I thought Josey really was great. She got in some tough situations. You know, we had some errors behind her, but she really shut it down. She pitched with so much confidence in big pressure situations. She showed a lot of toughness for a freshman in a tough environment."
Aquana Brownlee - Went 2-for-4, including beating out an infield single that would lead to State's first run ... was also hit by a pitch and scored twice ... led off three innings, reaching base every time and leading to a Bulldog run in all three frames ... has reached base in five straight games and now has 12 multi-hit games this year. Madisyn Kennedy - Hit a two-run homer for the second straight day ... now has 23 in her career and sits alone in ninth place in MSU history ... turned her seventh double play of the year.
Chloe Malau'ulu - Went 3-for-5 with a double ... posted her eighth career three-hit game ... drove in the winning run in the top of the ninth ... now has 51 career multi-hit games, which is tied for ninth in MSU history ... has reached base in nine straight games.
Josey Marron - Threw 7.0 innings in relief ... struck out seven, bringing her season total to 93 strikeouts, which ranks fifth among freshmen in school history ... allowed just two hits.
Jackie McKenna - Went 2-for-4 with two RBIs ... now has three multi-RBI and five multi-hit games this year. Kat Wallace - Pinch ran and stole second base before coming home to score.
Top 2 -- Aquana Brownlee beat out an infield single to the second baseman to open the frame. Kat Wallace pinch ran for her at first and stole second. Jackie McKenna singled into right with two outs, and Wallace beat the tag at the plate. Mississippi State 1, No. 17 Auburn 0
Bottom 2 -- Denver Bryant drew a leadoff walk, and Skylar Elkins pinch ran at first. With one out, Aspyn Godwin singled through the left side, putting runners on first and second. Following a pop out, Rose Roach singled into center field, scoring Elkins from second, but the ball was bobbled by the centerfielder, allowing Godwin to score as well. Mississippi State 1, No. 17 Auburn 2
Top 4 -- Brownlee was hit by a pitch to open the inning. Madisyn Kennedy then hit a two-run homer off the top of the scoreboard. Mississippi State 3, No. 17 Auburn 2
Bottom 4 -- Back-to-back errors in the infield allowed Bryant and Icess Tresvik on base. Godwin bunted them to second and third. Following a walk to load the bases, Roach hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Bryant. Mississippi State 3, No. 17 Auburn 3
Bottom 5 -- Lindsey Garcia singled to left, and Abbey Smith pinch ran for her. Bri Ellis was retired at first by the shortstop on a ball that deflected off the third baseman, but it allowed Smith to reach second. With two outs, Smith took third on a wild pitch before Bryant walked. Auburn ran a first-and-third play and the catcher's throw kicked off the second baseman's glove, allowing Smith to score. Mississippi State 3, No. 17 Auburn 4
Top 6 -- Brownlee singled to open the inning for a third time before Kennedy walked. Saleyna Daniel beat out a bunt to load the bases. McKenna then ripped a ball off the third baseman's glove to score Brownlee from third. Mississippi State 4, No. 17 Auburn 4
Top 9 -- Brylie St. Clair singled through the right side to lead off the inning. Riley Hull laid down a bunt, but it was not handled cleanly, allowing her to reach safely. Nadia Barbary bunted the runners to second and third before Chloe Malau'ulu singled up the middle to score St. Clair from third. Mississippi State 5, No. 17 Auburn 4
State and Auburn's rubber match is set for 11 a.m. CT on Sunday. The game will air on SEC Network. With a win or an Ole Miss loss on Sunday, MSU can guarantee itself at least the No. 11 seed in the SEC Tournament and avoid the Tuesday play-in game.