By Logan Lowery/Special to the Journal
STARKVILLE – Daryl Norris was not expected to return from a Feb. 29 dislocated kneecap for a least another week or two.
But the sophomore was used as a designated hitter in all three games against Vanderbilt this weekend going 6 for 10 with four runs batted in including the game-winning RBI double in the bottom of the ninth Sunday to give the Bulldogs an 8-7 victory and their first Southeastern Conference series win of the season.
Norris drove a two-out pitch to the wall in right-center which allowed Mitch Slauter to score the game-winning run from first.
“He just left it out over the plate and I was sitting on it the whole at bat,” Norris said.
The win pushed MSU’s conference record to 5-7 on the year and 20-12 overall. It was their first league series win at home since sweeping Auburn last March and first over the Commodores since 2005.
“The thing that was the story of the game for me at least was we went down four early and our kids kept battling,” MSU skipper John Cohen said. “They stayed positive and kept believing we were going to find a way to get this done.”
The Bulldogs collected 10 hits on the day led by Norris’ 3 for 4 performance which included a double and three runs batted in.
Shortstop Adam Frazier went 2 for 4 with a pair of singles and an RBI while right fielder Brent Brownlee also added a double at the dish.
Luis Pollorena picked up the win in his first decision of the season. The junior southpaw recorded the final out with runners at first and second in the top of the ninth inning after Taylor Stark blew the save opportunity.
“It’s great,” Pollorena said. “Before the game Coach Cohen said that we are just so close to blowing down that door to being able to be a great club. This just shows that we are good and we’ve just got to believe in each other, trust our abilities and play the game like we know how.”
In all, State sent six pitchers to the mound including Caleb Reed’s experiment as a starter. The senior preseason All-American closer lasted only three innings allowing three earned runs on five hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Nick Routt, Evan Mitchell, Ross Mitchell, Stark and Pollorena finished the game out of the bullpen.
Vanderbilt (13-19, 4-8) finished with 13 hits on the Easter afternoon led by shortstop Anthony Gomez going 3 for 5 with three singles and two runs batted in.
Left fielder Tony Kemp was also 3 for 5 with a double while first baseman Conrad Gregor and second baseman Riley Reynolds were each 2 for 4. Gregor had a double and one RBI and catcher Spencer Navin was 2 for 5 driving in one.
Kevin Ziomek, who started Friday night’s game for the Commodores, dropped to 2-6 with the loss. Ziomek pitched only 2/3 of an inning allowing one run on one hit with one strikeout and a walk.
Vandy starter Drew VerHagan lasted 31/3 innings surrendering three runs on three hits with a walk and no strikeouts.
Mississippi State returns to the diamond Tuesday hosting South Alabama at 6:30 p.m.