By Paul Jones/Special to the Journal
STARKVILLE – In the opening series of the weekend, MSU head coach John Cohen wanted to see his baseball squad challenged. He got just that and then some this weekend against Washington State and experienced success, too.
The Bulldogs scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 2 of Sunday’s doubleheader to capture a 5-4 win and the series at Dudy Noble Field. MSU (2-1) lost the first game of the twinbill 5-4 in 13 innings.
“It was real important to me at this stage for us to play a really good Pac 12 team that’s been to the (NCAA) regional finals two of the last three years,” said Cohen. “So they are a good team with a lot of poise and their lineup is gonna be one of the best in the Pac 12.”
Bulldog junior catcher Mitch Slauter’s RBI double tied the second game at 4-4 and then C.T. Bradford followed with a single. On Bradford’s single, WSU catcher Collin Slaybaugh tried to throw behind Bradford at first but his throw went into right field and allowed Slauter to score the eventual game-winning run.
In the opener, MSU rallied from a 4-1 deficit and tied the game at 4-4 thanks to Trey Porter’s two-run home run in the sixth inning. But the Bulldogs squandered many scoring opportunities the rest of the way and lost 6-5 in 13 innings. Porter also homered in the second game as well for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs left 16 runners on base, and stranded runners in scoring position in the 9th, 10th, 11th and 13th innings. The Cougars pushed across two runs in the top of the 13th on Tommy Richards’ two-run single and held on for the victory.
Overall, MSU stranded 16 runners in the opener and senior reliever Caleb Reed (0-1) was the tough-luck loser. Nick Routt started for MSU and only last two innings. Evan Mitchell struck out eight in just 4.1 innings of work while Reed struck out nine in 6.1 innings and gave up just three hits.
“I know it was a long stint for my first time this year,” said Reed, who threw 95 pitches. “But that is what I am here for and I didn’t want to come out.
“But it was good to see our guys to fight back after what happened in that first game. They could’ve sulked but they didn’t and came back and got the win.”
MSU collected 14 hits in the extra-inning loss and were led by Porter’s three hits and two RBIs.
“I felt we played well but just had some crazy things happen to us today,” said Cohen. “But we gotta be better situational than we were in the first game and even in the second game. I just have this overwhelming feeling we have the right kids and they are gonna get better.
“We are gonna be better 50 games from now than we are right now. But playing this kind of caliber team is really good for us early in the season.”
Washington State’s Nick Laroy (1-0) got just one out in the game but picked up the win in the opener and teammate Scott Simon got his first save of the year.