Bats wake up late for Bulldogs

Preston Brown took the loss for MSU in Game 1. (Mississippi State)

Preston Brown took the loss for MSU in Game 1. (Mississippi State)

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – It took Mississippi State 15 innings before it plated its first run in a Saturday doubleheader against Arkansas.

As a result, the 16th-ranked Bulldogs (19-10, 5-3) were only able to manage a split – falling 4-0 in Game 1 before rallying back for a 5-1 victory in the nightcap to even the series.

The rubber match of the series is slated for a 1:30 p.m. first pitch today. Junior right-hander Trevor Fitts (2-1, 3.13 ERA) takes the mound for the Diamond Dogs while Arkansas (17-8, 4-3) counters with junior righty Chris Oliver (2-2, 1.74 ERA).

MSU had 10 hits in each of Saturday’s games.

“It would’ve been so easy to say things aren’t going to go our way after hitting a bunch of balls hard,” said MSU coach John Cohen. “We only struck out three times in the second game and only once in the first game and hit some balls hard but just couldn’t bunch them together.”

Derrick Armstrong played a vital role in the Diamond Dogs’ offense. Armstrong went 6-for-8 on the day with three singles in each game.

“I’d been hitting line drives right at people the past couple of weeks,” Armstrong said. “Today I finally got some holes.”

In Game 1, the Razorbacks roughed up State starter Preston Brown (3-1) for four runs on seven hits through five innings. Ben Bracewell came on to toss four shutout innings of relief with six strikeouts but the Bulldogs offense stranded nine runners.

Arkansas starter Jalen Beeks (4-2) picked up the win tossing eight shutout frames, scattering nine hits with a walk and a strikeout.

Joe Serrano paced the Hogs 10-hit attack going 3-for-4 with three singles.

Game 2

In the second game, Mississippi State starter Ross Mitchell struggled in the first inning hitting the leadoff batter, throwing a wild pitch and serving up a single which plated a run.

But the All-American settled down and threw eight shutout innings from there giving up just three more hits the rest of the way improving to 5-1 on the year. It was Mitchell’s second complete game in his last three starts and improved to 7-0 in his career against SEC opponents.

“I’ve enjoyed (the starters role),” Mitchell said. “So far I’ve been able to allow my team to get some hits and score some runs and my defense has been able to hold them to just one or two. I’ve tried to feed off of that each week.”

Amory native and former Itawamba Community College standout Zack Randolph had a two-run single as part of a four-run sixth inning for MSU.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com