HOOVER, Ala. – Mississippi State celebrated the return of Ricky Bowen to the pitcher’s mound with an impressive 10-0 shutout of UAB in college baseball action Tuesday night at Regions Park.
The Bulldogs improved to 17-15 overall while running their win streak in the series with the Blazers to 15 straight. Conference USA member UAB fell to 16-14. The Bulldogs complete a two-game series sweep, having won earlier this season, 8-4 in Starkville.
MSU started the junior right-hander Bowen Tuesday night. A weekend Southeastern Conference starter last season, Bowen has been sidelined this year due to control problems. Bowen’s start Tuesday night was his first since a start against Southern Miss on March 17. In that contest, Bowen could not get out of the first inning.
Tuesday night, Bowen (2-1) turned things around and picked up the win by throwing a season-best six innings, allowing three hits with five walks and five strikeouts. Lee Swindle completed the contest and earned his second save.
The duo combined to pitch MSU’s first shutout of the 2009 season. Ironically, it was MSU’s first shutout since Bowen’s complete-game, two-hit 4-0 shutout of in-state rival Ole Miss last season in Starkville.
Offensively, the Bulldogs scored lone runs in the first and second innings. MSU added three scores in the fifth inning and put the contest away on Jet Butler’s first career grand slam in the sixth inning. It was the second grand slam for the Bulldogs this season. MSU scored its final run in the ninth inning.
“That was a big win, we put up a lot of runs,” Butler said. “Ricky did great tonight and pounded the zone. I am really proud of him.”
In the first inning, Butler reached as a hit batsman. Connor Powers continued his recent offensive tear, by hitting a double to left center field. Russ Sneed drew a walk to load the bases. A wild pitch scored Butler but the Bulldogs could get no more.
In the second inning, Ryan Powers started things with a two-out double to left center. Grant Hogue then made it back-to-back two-out hits, slapping an RBI-single to right field.
The fifth inning saw that same duo start the noise again. Ryan Powers singled to right field and Hogue followed with a double down the left field line. Butler followed with an RBI-single, scoring Powers. Connor Powers hit a sacrifice fly to score Hogue. After a hit by Sneed, Cody Freeman lined a sacrifice fly, scoring Butler.
In the sixth inning, Nick Hardy singled, Ryan Powers walked and Hogue singled to load the bases. Butler then cleared the bases with his third home run of the season – a massive shot over the 380-foot mark in right center field.
“The hitters got on base all night and made things happen,” Butler said. “Hopefully, we can build on this. Southern Miss is a big game and then this weekend is a big conference series.”
The Bulldogs finished with 11 hits. MSU has had 10 or more hits now in four straight games. Hogue led the way Tuesday night with three hits. The former Pearl River Community College standout has now hit safely in six straight games and collected three or more hits in four of his last six starts. Ryan Powers had a pair of hits to run his hit streak to a team-best, season-best nine games. Butler had his ninth multiple hit game of the season and a career-high five RBIs.
UAB finished with five hits. No Blazer had more than one hit.
Colin McMurry (1-1) took the loss for UAB. McMurry worked four innings, allowing four hits and two runs (both earned), with four strikeouts and one walk. Five pitchers wound up throwing for UAB in the contest.
The Bulldogs return home to host Southern Miss in a 6:30 p.m. start Wednesday at Dudy Noble Field. The contest will be televised regionally by Comcast Sports Southeast with Matt Stewart and former Bulldog standout Jay Powell providing the commentary. In Southeastern Conference play this weekend, MSU plays at Tennessee. The Bulldogs and Volunteers start at 6 p.m. CT Friday, noon CT Saturday and noon CT Sunday. All three MSU-UT contests will be televised regionally by SportSouth.
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