By MSU Media Relations
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State’s Mitch Slauter connected for the game-tying hit and a throwing error plated the game-winning run as the Bulldogs knocked off Washington State 5-4 in a the second game of a college baseball doubleheader played Sunday night at Dudy Noble Field.
The Bulldogs (2-1) rallied from down 4-2 in the eighth inning to win the season-opening weekend series, two games to one. Washington State (1-2) had the dramatics in the opener, as the Cougars plated two 13th-inning scores to post a 6-5 victory.
“It was really important for us at this stage in the game to play a really good Pac-12 opponent, who has been a regional final two of the last three years,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “They’re a good club and have a lot of poise. You can tell they are inexperienced on the mound. I thought we played so well, and we just had some crazy things happen to us today.
“I just have this overwhelming feeling that we have the right kids and we’re going to be better 50 games from now than we are right now. Playing a team of this caliber was crucial in my mind.”
In the MSU eighth inning, a leadoff walk issued to Adam Frazier opened the door. Brent Brownlee followed with a double to right field. A sacrifice-fly by Trey Porter brought the score to 4-3. Slauter followed with RBI-double to the left center gap. C.T. Bradford then added a single with an overthrow by the catcher allowing Slauter to trot home with the game-winning run.
Washington State built an early 2-0 lead with a two-run double by Nate Blackham. The Maroon and White answered with an unearned run in the third inning and Porter’s second home run of the day in the sixth inning.
“I just want to contribute whatever way I can,” Porter said. “Definitely in my first at-bat, I had huge butterflies. But once you get that first at-bat out of the way, it just comes down to playing baseball.”
The Cougars built a 4-2 lead with a pair of scores in the top of the eighth inning. RBI-singles by Derek Jones and Adam Nelubowich were the big blows in that inning.
Taylor Stark (1-0) earned the win with 1.2 innings of relief work. Stark allowed three hits and one run, with two strikeouts. Kendall Graveman posted a strong start with 6.1 innings of three-hit baseball and two runs (both earned). Graveman struck out four as MSU pitching struck out a total 25 for the afternoon.
“I thought Kendall was outstanding,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “If you take away two at-bats when he hits a guy and walks a guy – if he doesn’t have those two sequences – he is going to pitch a shutout through six innings. We are really excited about him because he can race through some innings.”
The Bulldogs finished with 10 hits, including a three-hit night by Bradford.
Blackham and Jason Monda each had multiple hits for Washington State, which finished with seven hits.
In the opener, Tommy Richards’ two-run single in the top half of the 13th inning lifted the Cougars to a 6-5 win.
The MSU pitching staff posted 19 strikeouts and threw eight straight scoreless innings before Richards touched Caleb Reed in the top half of the 13th inning. In the home half of the inning, the Maroon and White got a single by Brownlee, double by Frazier and RBI-groundout by Daryl Norris. However, Frazier was stranded a third base when the contest was complete.
For MSU, it was the Bulldogs’ longest game since a 4-1 17-inning win over Ole Miss on April 29, 2007. MSU only played one extra-inning contest a season ago – a 10-inning defeat at Alabama.
Reed (0-1) was masterful in relief. The MSU closer threw 93 pitches, while allowing three hits and two runs in 6.1 innings of relief. Reed stuck out nine. Evan Mitchell also sparkled in relief, with eight strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work.
“They have a lot of lefties in their lineup and they hit the ball very well,” Reed said. “That’s probably the best team we’ve played to open the year since I’ve been here.”
Washington State (1-1) built an early 4-1 lead before the Bulldogs (1-1) tied the contest on a two-run home run by Porter in the sixth inning.
Porter had three of MSU’s 14 hits.
“Trey’s a good player,” Cohen said. “He gets all over the plate and is very difficult to pitch to. When he gets those kinds of situations, he makes the most of it.”
MSU returns to action Friday night with a 6:30 p.m. start against Kansas at Dudy Noble Field.