By School reports
STARKVILLE – Three-hit nights by Luke Adkins and Connor Powers led the way as Mississippi State beat South Alabama 9-5 Wednesday night at Dudy Noble Field.
The top three spots in the Bulldog lineup collected eight of the squad’s 13 hits as State won its ninth straight non-conference game at home. The Bulldogs scored three times in the first inning and were never threatened the rest of the way.
Leadoff hitter Luke Adkins collected his seventh three-hit game of the season, while Connor Powers had his fourth three-hit game of the season. In between, Ryan Duffy continued his recent offensive tear with multiple hits and a sacrifice fly. Duffy recorded his 100th career win with MSU Wednesday night and now has 11 hits and 11 RBIs in his last four games.
“Good teams hit the ball to the center of the field,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “We haven’t been doing this, so it’s a very good sign that we were hitting them solid tonight.”
Kendall Graveman (2-2) pitched the final four innings to garner the victory. Graveman allowed three hits and two runs (one earned), while watching the Bulldogs expand on a 5-4 seventh-inning lead.
In the MSU first inning, Adkins started things with a single up the middle. Duffy followed with a hit to left field. Powers singled Adkins home with a single to left field. Jet Butler drew a walk to load the bases. After a strikeout, Trey Johnson hit a ground ball out scoring another run. An RBI-single by Jonathan Ogden capped the inning.
An inning later, the lead was stretched to 4-0 on an RBI-double down the left field line hit by Powers. That hit scored Adkins, who had reached with a one-out single.
South Alabama began the rally with three runs in the fourth inning. Tyler Vick started things with a leadoff double. After a sacrifice bunt, Taylor White connected for an infield hit, bringing Vick home. Brent Tanner followed with a single, prior to an RBI-single by Clint Reynolds, which scored White. A soft dribbler hit by Adam Heisler brought Tanner home and ended the night of MSU starting pitcher Luke Bole.
The Bulldogs answered with a critical insurance run in their half of the fourth again. Once again, Adkins was in the middle of things. Sam Frost began the inning with a hit. Frost took second on a sacrifice bunt attempt and grabbed third when Adkins collected his third hit in as many at-bats. A sacrifice-fly by Duffy kept the top two in the Bulldog lineup perfect at the plate and ran the score to 5-3.
MSU reliever Greg Houston gave way to Kendall Graveman to start the sixth inning. Graveman was touched for a leadoff double by USA’s Reynolds. After back-to-back lineouts, one of which advanced Reynolds a bag, Jake Overstreet hit a line drive which bounced off Graveman for a run-scoring infield hit.
The Bulldogs then struck for four big insurance runs in their half of the seventh inning. After a groundout, Powers struck for his third hit of the night – a double to right field. Russ Sneed pinch hit and drew an intentional walk. Jaron Shepherd followed with an RBI-single through the right side of the infield. Trey Johnson drew a walk to load the bases. Sam Frost drew a walk to force pinch runner Nick Vickerson home. Wes Thigpen followed by going up the middle with a score-ending two-run single.
“We had a good offensive night,” Cohen said. “We had quite a few hits and hopefully that will mean more confidence as we go forward.”
Vick and Reynolds each paced USA with three of the squad’s 12 hits. Starting pitcher Lance Brown (1-3) was lifted in the fourth inning and took the loss.
MSU hosts Tennessee this weekend when Super Bulldog Weekend returns to the MSU campus. The Bulldogs and Volunteers are slated to start at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.