NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mississippi State waited quite some time for the key hit Friday night.
Redshirt freshman Cole Gordon made the wait worth the while in the end as his RBI-single in the top half of the 13thinning lifted No. 15 MSU past No. 2 Vanderbilt 2-1 in the opening-game of a three-game Southeastern Conference baseball series at Hawkins Field.
MSU (13-5-1, 1-0 SEC) gained some momentum with three wins over Top 10-foe Oregon last weekend. The Bulldogs again rode stellar pitching to kick off their 30-game conference slate on the right foot Friday night.
“We felt like we had a ton of opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “Dakota Hudson battled his tail off tonight. He showed the type of competitor he is. He kept us in the ballgame all night. He was outstanding. It was a Friday night in the SEC and he pitched the way you have to.”
The junior right-hander Hudson continued his Friday night dominance with another quality start. Hudson allowed four hits and one run (unearned), with eight strikeouts and two walks in nine innings of work. Blake Smith worked the 10th inning. Kale Breaux was lifted after getting two batters in the 11th inning. From there, Ryan Rigby (1-0) completed the contest with 2.1 innings of shutout relief.
“Our relievers came in and threw strikes,” Cohen said. “They just filled the zone and really kept a great hitting team under control. As a team, we will grow from this experience. It’s a huge win and it gives a lot of the new guys a whole bunch of confidence. This is how you compete and win games in this league.”
MSU scored its lone run in regulation in the first inning. Jacob Robson had a leadoff double and later scored on one of Vanderbilt’s two errors in the contest.
The Bulldog kept flirting with expansion of the lead from there, leaving the bases loaded in both the second and third innings. For the contest, MSU stranded 16 base runners.
Vanderbilt (16-2, 0-1 SEC) pulled even in the home half of the fourth inning, also on an unearned run. Will Toffey reached on a throwing error and scored on a base hit by Alonzo Jones.
Things stayed that way until the 13th inning. Luke Alexander, who led an outstanding defensive effort by the Bulldogs, hit a one-out double and scored when Gordon blooped a two-out single to shallow left field.
Rigby worked around a leadoff walk in the home half of that inning as the Bulldogs won an extra-inning game for the first time this season.
Vanderbilt right-hander Matt Rupenthal (0-1) pitched the final seven innings and took the loss.
MSU finished with eight hits. Brent Rooker, who also had a key inning-ending catch to prevent an extra-base hit, had multiple hits.
Vanderbilt finished with seven hits. Toffey had two hits for the Commodores, who left 12 on base.
The series resumes at 7:30 p.m. Saturday with a live national telecast on the SEC Network.
(From MSU Media Relations)