By Miss. State Media Relations
STARKVILLE – A pair of true freshmen pitched well Sunday afternoon as the Mississippi State baseball team bounced back into the win column with a 7-3 victory over Georgia State Sunday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.
Evan Mitchell (3-0) worked 5.1 innings, allowing six hits and two runs (both earned) with a career-high seven strikeouts. Daryl Norris completed the eight-hitter by pitching the final 3.2 innings for his first save. Norris also struck out a pair, while walking none.
“I am very pleased with our freshmen arms today,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “Evan Mitchell pitched well and Daryl Norris shut them down for a few innings. We backed them up with a couple of good defensive plays. Jaron (Shepherd) made a couple of nice plays in center field.”
The Bulldogs (10-3) played their eighth errorless game of the season, while beating the Panthers (9-4) for the second time in this weekend’s three-team double round-robin tournament.
Offensively, MSU set the tone early by scoring twice in the second inning. After GSU battled back for a 2-2 tie in the top of the fourth inning, the Bulldogs took the lead for good with two scores of their own in the home half of the fourth inning.
In the second inning, Ryan Collins started things with a one-out single. After an infield error, Shepherd followed with a single to load the bases. A groundout by Wes Thigpen plated one run, while an RBI-single by Sam Frost brought home the other.
The Panthers tied things at 2-2 with a two-run double by Aaron Schmitz. That double came after a double from Roy Fleming and walk by Rob Lind. It was only one of two multi-hit innings for the Panthers.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Collins began the inning with a lead-off single. A walk and hit batsman loaded the bases. The Bulldogs then had two different run-scoring singles by Thigpen and C.T. Bradford.
The Maroon and White lead was extended to 7-2 thanks to a steal of home by Cody Freeman in the fifth inning, a sacrifice-fly by Jarrod Parks in the sixth inning and an RBI-ground out by Collins in the eighth inning.
Georgia State closed the scoring in the ninth inning when Schmitz touched Norris for his first home run of the year.
The Bulldogs finished with nine hits but stranded 11 base runners. Bradford and Collins each had multiple hits. Brandon Williams and Schmitz had multiple-hits for the Panthers.
Charley Olson (1-2) worked five innings for GSU, while taking the loss. Olson allowed seven hits and five runs (three earned), with six strikeouts.
Mitchell has started strong for the Bulldogs. In 14.2 innings of work, the Marietta, Ga., native has allowed 13 hits and four earned runs, while striking out 13 batters. The MSU pitching staff has posted a 2.54 ERA through the first 13 games of the 2011 campaign.
Offensively, the Bulldogs are hitting .319. Freeman leads the team with a .421 average, while Parks is tops on the team with 18 base hits. Parks has also driven in a team-best 15 runs, while Jonathan Ogden has hit three of MSU’s seven home runs.
In Sunday’s opener, Iowa defeated Georgia State, 3-2. With the win, the Hawkeyes posted a weekend-best 3-1 record.
The Bulldogs conclude their season-opening 14-game homestand by hosting Mississippi Valley State at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.