STARKVILLE – A disastrous fourth inning for Mississippi State gave Tennessee a 4-0 lead.
It would be all the Volunteers needed in a 4-2 victory Friday night.
Two hits, two walks, a catcher’s interference and three wild pitches by reliever Jacob Lindgren led to the big inning for the Vols.
“We obviously let this one slip away from us,” said MSU coach John Cohen. “The fourth inning was walks, balls in the dirt and wild pitches. We didn’t handle that inning very well. I felt like we just gave them an inning there.”
The Diamond Dogs had their chances. MSU had a runner thrown out at the plate in the opening inning and loaded the bases in the final two frames but did not score.
Trailing 4-2, the Bulldogs loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth inning but UT reliever Andrew Lee struck out the next three batters to get the Vols out of the jam. State again stacked the sacks with one out in their final at bat but could not scratch a run across.
“We had tons of opportunities at the end of the ball game with runners in scoring position and were not mature in the way that we handled that,” Cohen said. “That was really frustrating for our club. We’ve got to have better at bats late in that ball game.”
It was the fourth consecutive home loss for the Diamond Dogs, who fell to 31-19 overall and 14-11 in conference play. Mississippi State stranded 12 runners in the contest with Trevor Fitts (4-3) taking the loss giving up just one earned run in a 31⁄3 inning start.
The Bulldogs outhit Tennessee 10-7 with C.T. Bradford going 3-for-5 with an RBI. Cody Brown and Alex Detz also added a pair of hits in the losing effort.
Hunter Martin (4-3) picked up the win for the Vols going 61⁄3 innings allowing two runs on six hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
Taylor Smart, Nathaniel Maggio and Christin Stewart all had two hits for Tennessee (29-18, 11-14).
Game 2 is at 6 p.m. today on CSS with left-hander Ross Mitchell (4-2, 2.62 ERA) taking the mound for MSU while the Vols counter with righty Nick Williams (5-4, 3.73 ERA).