STARKVILLE – Following Wednesday’s loss to Memphis, head coach John Cohen said he felt his Mississippi State squad had lost its identity.
The Bulldogs seemed to find it Friday night by using a combination of solid pitching, timely hitting and opportunistic base running to down Holy Cross 6-2 in the first game of a four-game weekend series.
“Coach told us to stick to our identity and I think that worked out well for us tonight,” said right fielder Jake Vickerson. “He just wanted us to get back to what we do. This park is big and it’s not a place for power. He wants us to hit the ball on the ground, run and hit line drives. I think we were able to do that.”
MSU (3-2) collected 10 hits in the contest and went 8 for 8 in the stolen base department, one shy of the school record. Vickerson played a big part in both categories, going 3 for 4 with a double, an RBI and two steals.
“I don’t know if it was in the scouting report (to run) but coach told us to use our speed,” Vickerson said. “We have speed guys, so we needed to use that to our advantage.”
C.T. Bradford added a 2 for 4 performance at the plate with a double, RBI and two steals while Jacob Robson swiped three bases and reached base in all four at bats.
Brandon Woodruff bounced back after a shaky opener last week to even his record on the mound. Woodruff went 52⁄3 innings giving up an earned run on three hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
Myles Gentry closed things out with 31⁄3 innings of shutout relief giving up just one hit while fanning five and walking two.
“I think (Gentry) really salivates when he sees all those right-handers stacked up on one club,” Cohen said. “We needed him to elongate his performance tonight because it’s a four-game set and you want to hold your bullpen intact.”
Holy Cross (0-1) finished with four hits and used nine pitchers.
A doubleheader is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. today with junior right-hander Trevor Fitts (1-0, 1.50 ERA) taking the mound for State while the Crusaders counter with freshman righty Phil Reese.
Holy Cross is scheduled to start junior right-hander Collin Manning in Game 2 while the Diamond Dogs had yet to name a starter on Friday night.