By Miss. State Media Relations
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State pitching recorded its third shutout of the season Friday night as the Bulldogs blanked Sacred Heart University 5-0 at Dudy Noble Field.
In a first-ever meeting between the Bulldogs and Northeast Conference member Pioneers, the Maroon and White scored twice in the first and fifth innings and added a final score in the seventh inning. From there, the Bulldogs overcame shaky defense with the strong pitching of junior right-hander Devin Jones and junior right-hander Caleb Reed.
Thanks to Wednesday’s rain-suspended contest at UAB, the Bulldogs technically extended their season-opening homestand Friday night. The Bulldogs improved to 11-3 overall, while Sacred Heart lost to a second straight Southeastern Conference opponent, falling to 4-5. The Pioneers also fell 6-1 at LSU on Wednesday night.
“What Devin and Caleb did was impressive,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “You don’t want to trade offense for defense but when you’re not swinging it well, it’s great to have that. Devin didn’t have his best stuff but he competed all night.”
Jones (2-2) threw his third quality start and the team’s eighth quality start of the campaign. Facing 28 batters in seven innings of work, Jones allowed five hits, with a career-high seven strikeouts and one walk. Reed faced the minimum six batters in his two innings of work, while recording four strikeouts.
“My job is to eat up innings, pitch efficiently and throw lots of strikes,” Jones said. “I could’ve done a better job of that with limiting pitches but overall, it was a good outing.”
In the MSU first inning, Nick Vickerson drew a leadoff walk. Vickerson then stole both second base and third base. Presently, the MSU senior is second in the Southeastern Conference with 11 steals. Jarrod Parks followed with a one-out triple to right center. A follow-up RBI-single by Ryan Collins extended the lead to 2-0.
The Bulldogs stranded five base runners over the next three innings, including two runners in both the second and fourth innings. Finally, MSU broke through again with a pair of scores in the fifth inning.
Again, things started with a leadoff walk. Parks received that walk, forcing SHU starter Kody Kerski (0-2) from the mound. Relief pitcher James Ineson was greeted by a sacrifice-bunt from Collins. Jonathan Ogden singled and later stole second base.
After a groundout, a wild pitch scored Ogden. An infield single by Wes Thigpen plated Jarod Shepherd, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, with the inning’s other run.
In the seventh inning, the Bulldogs brought one more run home. Ogden reached on a one-out infield error. After a failed pickoff attempt moved the Bulldog shortstop to third base, an RBI-single by Shepherd brought him home.
The Bulldogs only managed six hits and made a pair of errors in the field. No Bulldog managed more than one hit in the contest.
Steve Tedesco had two of Sacred Heart’s five hits.
The Bulldogs and Pioneers resume their weekend series with a 6 p.m. start Saturday and 1:30 p.m. start Sunday. Sophomore right-hander Chris Stratton (3-0, 0.44 ERA) is scheduled to get the start for MSU in the Saturday contest, while freshman right-hander Evan Mitchell (3-0, 2.45) is slated for Sunday’s start.