Dominant pitching leads to doubleheader sweep

Austin Sexton

Austin Sexton

STARKVILLE Junior right-hander Austin Sexton got the Mississippi State baseball team off to a good start Saturday afternoon.

Throwing his first career complete-game shutout, Sexton threw a three-hitter with a career-high 11 strikeouts as No. 17 MSU knocked off Nicholls State 5-0 at Dudy Noble Field.

The strong pitching also continued in the second game as MSU ran its win streak to four straight with a 4-2 win over UMass-Lowell. The winning streak is the longest since MSU began the 2015 campaign with 13 straight victories.

MSU (5-2) will look to sweep this weekend’s four game-set with a 3:30 p.m. first pitch Sunday against Nicholls State (4-3). So far on the weekend, MSU’s three starting pitchers have tossed 20 2/3 innings of shutout baseball with 24 strikeouts.

Sexton got all the offensive support he needed when the Maroon and White scored twice in the sixth inning. The Bulldogs then plated three insurance scores in the eighth inning.

In the sixth inning, Gavin Collins and Hunter Stovall got things going with back-to-back singles. Freshman catcher Elih Marrero broke the scoring ice with an RBI-double to left field. Ryan Gridley followed with a sacrifice bunt plating another run.

In the eighth inning, Stovall again helped get things going with a one-out single. After a walk to Cody Brown, Gridley and Jacob Robson followed with back-to-back run-producing hits. A wild pitch scored the final run of the contest.

Such offense would be more than enough for Sexton (1-1), who walked only one and faced 31 batters (four past the minimum), while throwing 97 total pitches and 71 strikes.

After being held to six hits in a 4-2 win over UMass-Lowell Friday night, the Bulldogs collected 12 hits in Saturday’s first game. Robson had three hits from the leadoff spot, while Nathaniel Lowe and Stovall each added multiple hits for the first time in their careers.

Mississippi State 4, UMass Lowell 2

In the second contest, the pitching quartet of Daniel Brown, Jacob Billingsley, Ryan Rigby and Reid Humphreys combined to allow 12 hits but the held the River Hawks (1-2) to two runs (one earned). MSU pitching struck out 10 and walked three.

Brown (1-0) picked up the win in a career-long 5 2/3 innings pitched, while Humphreys got his first save and the team’s second in three games this weekend.

The Bulldogs broke on top with a sacrifice fly from Brent Rooker in the third inning. An inning later, the lead grew to 3-0 when Cody Brown tripled and scored on Gridley’s two-run home run – his second of the season.

After the River Hawks scored in the seventh inning, an RBI-triple by Robson plated a critical insurance score in the eighth inning.

In this victory, the Bulldogs had eight hits with Robson and Gridley leading the way with a pair of hits apiece.

(From MSU Media Relations)

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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