By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
PEARL – Mississippi State solved its offensive frustrations with a couple of big swings. Southern Miss just stayed frustrated.
Mitch Slauter and Hunter Renfroe both homered to power the Bulldogs past the Golden Eagles, 5-0, at Trustmark Park on Tuesday night. It was only the third multi-homer game of the season for State, and it helped counter a 1-for-12 showing with runners in scoring position.
Slauter and Renfroe both hit two-out, two-run homers to left field, in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively. Slauter’s gave MSU a 3-0 lead, and Renfroe’s – which cleared the State bullpen – made it 5-0.
“Every time we come to Trustmark we hit the ball hard right to somebody. It never fails,” Renfroe said. “We hit the ball a little better tonight.”
MSU (25-16) had only three hits by that point and finished with five. USM had six hits and stranded nine runners.
“I was talking to their catcher throughout the night,” said Slauter, “and that’s what he said: ‘We’re all just getting really frustrated.’”
It was MSU’s fourth win in a row over Southern Miss (23-17).
State loaded the bases with no outs in the third thanks to three walks, but it only scratched out one run, on a fielder’s choice by Daryl Norris. That was the theme of the first three innings, but Slauter said it was a matter of adjusting to a big strike zone.
The result left coach John Cohen much happier than a week earlier, when MSU’s loss here to Ole Miss caused him to launch into an impassioned postgame speech on the field.
“I can’t tell y’all what he said last week, but it wasn’t real pretty,” Renfroe said. “But yeah, he’s a lot more happy this week.”
Starting pitcher Brandon Woodruff went four innings, allowing no runs on four hits, striking out four and walking two. Reliever Nick Routt (2-4) got the win, tossing three innings of one-hit ball and starting an inning-ending double play in the fifth.
Woodruff, a freshman from Wheeler, got out of jams in the first and fourth innings, when he stranded five runners combined.
“The poise that that kid has for a freshman to me is unbelievable,” Cohen said.
Boomer Scarborough (1-2) started for Southern Miss and took the loss.
MSU is back home Friday to open a three-game SEC series against rival Ole Miss.