State drops series finale to Sacred Heart, 8-3

By Miss. State Media Relations

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State pitching allowed a season-high 14 base hits as the Bulldogs fell to Sacred Heart 8-3 in college baseball action Sunday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.

Despite the Sunday setback, the Bulldogs won their second three-game weekend series of the year. MSU also won all four games it played in one four-game weekend series, while splitting its four games on another weekend, using the same format.

MSU saw a three-game win streak snapped, while falling to 12-4. Northeast Conference-member Sacred Heart moved to 5-6, winning the final of four games played against Southeastern Conference competition this season.

The Bulldogs actually led 3-1 but five MSU pitchers could not hold the Pioneers at bay. The Bulldogs stranded 13 base runners and failed to push a score home in their final six at-bats.

“I think in this new age with this new bat,” said MSU head coach John Cohen, “When you’re in a situation like they’re in, what you’re going to do is just throw batting practice and put your guys on the wall and say please hit it to us, and hopefully, it’s gonna be right at us. That’s exactly what happened.”

In the MSU first inning, Nick Vickerson started things with a lead-off double. Vickerson stole third base for his 13th steal of the season and scored on a throwing error by the catcher. Daryl Norris also had a double in that at-bat but was stranded at second base.

The Pioneer tied the contest at 1-1 with a lone score in the top half of the third inning. Tyler Curry started things with a leadoff single and later stole second base. After a pair of groundouts, J.J. Edwards connected for an RBI-single.

The tie was short-lived as the Bulldogs answered with two scores in the home half of the third inning. C.T. Bradford began the at-bat with an infield bunt single. Bradford stole both second base and third base, prior to a walk to Jarrod Parks. Norris followed with a sacrifice-fly to center field, scoring Bradford. Parks came home on an RBI-double by Jonathan Ogden, which landed barely in fair territory down the left field line.

Sacred Heart battled back on top with four runs off five base hits in the top half of the fourth inning. That outburst chased MSU freshman right-hander starter Evan Mitchell, who matched the shortest of his four starts this season.

Rob Griffith led the inning off with a single to right field. Derick Horn followed with a single through the right side of the infield. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, before a one-out walk to Conner Mcevoy loaded the bases. Curry chased Mitchell with a game-tying two-run single down the left field line.

MSU reliever Victor Diaz was greeted by an infield bunt single by M.J. Schifano, which re-loaded the bases. A two-run single by Steve Tedesco capped the big inning. A groundout and strikeout worked Diaz out that tight spot, as the Pioneers stranded a pair of base runners.

The Pioneers built on that lead by scoring three times off three different MSU pitchers in the seventh inning. Sacred Heart ran the advantage to 8-3 with its second five-hit inning of the contest.

Edwards began things with a single to center field. After stealing second base, the SHU left fielder scored on a double by by Griffith. In relief, Tim Statz was greeted by an RBI-double by Derick Horn. After a single and walk, Statz was lifted for Luis Pollorena. Pollorena was greeted by an RBI-single from Curry.

Mitchell (3-1) took the loss. In 3.1 innings of work, he allowed six hits and five runs (all earned), with four strikeouts and one walk. Diaz worked three innings in relief, allowing five hits and two runs (both earned), with three strikeouts and a walk. Statz faced three batters in relief of Diaz, allowing one hit, while walking a pair of batters. Pollorena entered to get the final two outs of the seventh inning and worked the eighth inning. Hunter Renfroe worked the ninth inning.

Sacred Heart starter Matt Fitton (1-2) earned the win. Fitton threw five innings, allowing six hits and three runs (two earned), with three strikeouts and three walks. Nick Leiningen followed in relief, throwing four innings of no-hit shutout relief for his first save.

The Bulldogs host Eastern Illinois at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.