By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
PEARL – Hunter Renfroe is becoming the player John Cohen has envisioned for years.
Renfroe was 3 of 5 with two doubles, a three-run home run and a career-high six RBIs, and No. 13 MSU battered Southern Miss early and often in a 13-5 win on Tuesday night in front of 6,948 at Trustmark Park.
That snapped a two-game skid for State (18-2), which after losing two last weekend to Central Arkansas looked sharp in its final tuneup before opening SEC play this weekend versus LSU.
Renfroe, a junior outfielder, had an RBI double in a four-run first inning, which also featured a Mitch Slauter two-run double. Renfroe then smacked a two-run double to left-center field in the second inning for a 6-0 edge.
His three-run homer in the sixth, his fifth long ball of the season, made it 10-1. This was Renfroe’s fifth consecutive multi-hit game, and he leads the team with a .436 batting average and 23 RBIs.
“He’s the great athlete who’s becoming a great baseball player, and those two things don’t always collide,” MSU coach John Cohen said. “The athleticism is coming a bit together with a great plan at the plate, and it’s a fun thing to watch.”
MSU collected 15 hits, eight of them for extra bases.
“We had a lot of line drives, we worked the counts very well, saw a lot of pitches, got some balls we could drive,” Renfroe said.
MSU starter Luis Pollorena (4-0), who has owned USM during his career, was charged with five runs (four earned) on nine hits in five-plus innings. He struck out four and walked none.
The Golden Eagles finally broke through with Blake Brown’s RBI double in the fourth, ending Pollorena’s shutout streak against USM at 15 innings over three appearances.
“He really filled up the strike zone with two pitches – his fastball and his changeup,” Cohen said.
Ross Mitchell tossed four shutout innings for his first save.