Auburn faces one of its most crucial tests of the season this weekend: a road trip to Starkville, Miss., for a three-game series against SEC-leading Mississippi State — a pivotal series that will have first place in the conference on the line.
It’s also the Tigers’ first matchup of top-10 teams this season. No. 5 Auburn (30-13, 12-6 SEC) is a top-five team for the first time in 14 years, while Mississippi State (29-14, 13-5 SEC) is ranked eighth in the nation.
First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. from Dudy Noble Field, where Auburn ace Keegan Thompson (5-1, 1.48 ERA) will duel with Mississippi State left-handed sophomore Konnor Pilkington (4-3, 3.30 ERA).
AL.com will provide live updates and analysis throughout the game in the space below, so be sure to refresh the page for all the latest information.
FINAL: Mississippi State 5, Auburn 2
— Auburn drops the series opener to Mississippi State, will need to win the next two to claim the top spot in the SEC. Teams will play a doubleheader tomorrow at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Top of the 9th: Mississippi State 5, Auburn 2
— Davis grounds into a game-ending double play.
— Jeremy Johnson strikes out swinging, and Conor Davis comes up to pinch hit for Will Holland.
— Bowen McGuffin pinch hits and draws a leadoff walk.
Bottom of the 8th: Mississippi State 5, Auburn 2
— Klobosits with a perfect eighth. To the ninth we go.
Top of the 8th: Mississippi State 5, Auburn 2
— Plumlee gets Auburn in order in the eighth. Tigers down to their final three outs.
— Mississippi State making a pitching change: RHP Peyton Plumlee in for Pilkington, who is done after seven strong innings of work.
Bottom of the 7th: Mississippi State 5, Auburn 2
— Klobosits then gets the third out of the inning, which closes the books on Thompson: 6 2/3 innings, five runs (all earned) on six hits, with five strikeouts, three hit-by-pitch. First time since March 13, 2015 that Thompson has allowed five runs in an outing.
— Mississippi State 5, Auburn 2: Ryan Gridley with his third hit of the night — a single to right field to score a run.
— That will end Thompson’s night. Auburn going to Gabe Klobosits out of the bullpen.
— Big out for Thompson, who gets Brent Rooker swinging for the second out of the inning.
— Another hit-by-pitch: Jake Mangum gets plunked for the second time tonight. Two on with one out for MSU, with Brent Rooker coming up.
— Thompson hits Hunter Stovall with a pitch to put one on with one out in the inning. Stovall coming out of the game after getting plunked.
Top of the 7th: Mississippi State 4, Auburn 2
— Daniel Robert flies out to end the inning.
— Jay Estes strike out. Pilkington’s fourth of the night.
— Jonah Todd with a leadoff single, but he’s thrown out at second trying to stretch it to a double.
Bottom of the 6th: Mississippi State 4, Auburn 2
— Keegan Thompson with back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning and strand MacNamee at third.
— Sac bunt moves MacNamee over to third. One out for the Bulldogs against Keegan Thompson.
— Mississippi State 4, Auburn 2: Back-to-back doubles stretches the Bulldogs’ lead back to two runs. This one, by Elijah MacNamee, scores Gridley.
— Ryan Gridley with a leadoff double to the corner in left field.
Top of the 6th: Mississippi State 3, Auburn 2
— Will Holland lines out to end the inning. Auburn strands another runner in scoring position. MSU pitcher Konnor Pilkington is at 107 pitches.
— Jeremy Johnson draws a two-out walk. Second straight inning Auburn has gotten a man on with two outs. Johnson then advances to second on a wild pitch.
Bottom of the 5th: Mississippi State 3, Auburn 2
— Keegan Thompson bounces back again with a 1-2-3 inning, which included a pair of groundouts and his second strikeout of the day.
Top of the 5th: Mississippi State 3, Auburn 2
— Josh Anthony lines out, and Auburn leaves the bases loaded again. Cody Brown with a leaping grab to record the out.
— Mississippi State 3, Auburn 2: Dylan Ingram grounds to third base, but the throw to first pulls Rooker off the bag. Error on Luke Alexander allows Todd to score and leaves the bases loaded still.
— Daniel Robert walks and the bases are loaded for the second straight inning.
— Jay Estes reaches on an error, and Auburn has two on and two down for Daniel Robert.
— Jonah Todd reaches base for the second straight plate appearance, extends his hit streak to 11 games with a two-out single off Pilkington.
Bottom of the 4th: Mississippi State 3, Auburn 1
— Thompson gets a pop fly foul behind the plate and then a warning-track fly out to end the inning.
— Mississippi State 3, Auburn 1: Lovelady with an RBI double to score McNamee from third.
— Mississippi State 2, Auburn 1: McNamee with a triple to right-center field as Gridley easily scores.
— Mississippi State with its first base-runner since the first as Ryan Gridley singles to lead off the inning. Then moves to second on a sac bunt.
Top of the 4th: Auburn 1, Mississippi State 1
— Decker strikes out to end the inning and strand three runners on base.
— Blake Logan with a single to load the bases again. Bo Decker up with two outs.
— Auburn 1, Mississippi State 1: Josh Anthony ties the game with a sac fly, scoring Jonah Todd from third.
— Dylan Ingram hit by a pitch to load the bases for reigning SEC Player of the Week Josh Anthony.
— Daniel Robert pops up in the infield for the first out. He was up 3-0 in the count before Pilkington battled back and got the out.
— Now Auburn with its first hit: Jay Estes singles to put two aboard and no outs for Auburn, with the middle of the order due up.
— Auburn has its first base-runner as Jonah Todd draws a leadoff walk on four straight pitches.
Bottom of the 3rd: Mississippi State 1, Auburn 0
— Keegan Thompson with his second straight 1-2-3 inning. So far, the difference in this game is Thompson’s first-inning balk. Thompson has retired nine straight (and eight in a row since the balk).
Top of the 3rd: Mississippi State 1, Auburn 0
— Auburn goes down in order again, and the Tigers are hitless once through the order against Pilkington.
Bottom of the 2nd: Mississippi State 1, Auburn 0
— Keegan Thompson bounces back with a 1-2-3 inning, which included his first strikeout of the game and a fantastic play at third by Josh Anthony.
Top of the 2nd: Mississippi State 1, Auburn 0
— Auburn goes down in order again as Pilkington has retired the first six batters he has faced.
Bottom of the 1st: Mississippi State 1, Auburn 0
— Thompson retires the next two batters to get out of the inning without any further damage.
— Mississippi State 1, Auburn 0: Keegan Thompson balks, scoring Mangum and moving Rooker to second. First time this season Thompson has balked.
— Ryan Gridley flies out, but Mangum advances to third.
— Brent Rooker follows with a single to put two aboard with no outs.
— Keegan Thompson starts off his outing by hitting MSU leadoff man Jake Mangum with a pitch on a 1-2 count.
Top of the 1st: Auburn 0, Mississippi State 0
— Jonah Todd grounds out, Jay Estes pops up in foul territory, and Daniel Robert strikes out as the Tigers go down in order against Konnor Pilkington.
— Auburn will be without shortstop Luke Jarvis tonight against Mississippi State, so the Tigers have altered their typical lineup. Will Holland will start at shortstop, while Daniel Robert will DH, Jeremy Johnson will play left field and Bo Decker moves back to right field. Conor Davis, who usually is the designated hitter, is out of the lineup as a result of this change.
— CF Jonah Todd (.384)
— 2B Jay Estes (.288)
— DH Daniel Robert (.312)
— 1B Dylan Ingram (.238)
— 3B Josh Anthony (.290)
— C Blake Logan (.240)
— RF Bo Decker (.293)
— LF Jeremy Johnson (.154)
— SS Will Holland (.243)
Mississippi State lineup:
— CF Jake Mangum (.345)
— 1B Brent Rooker (.403)
— SS Ryan Gridley (.339)
— LF Cody Brown (.315)
— DH Elijah MacNamee (.256)
— C Josh Lovelady (.247)
— RF Tanner Poole (.252)
— 3B Luke Alexander (.247)
— 2B Hunter Stovall (.326)
AL.com will update this post.