STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI/MSU Athletics) — Bulldog pitching allowed a run or less for the eighth time this season and a late State surge broke a 1-1 deadlock as fifth-ranked Mississippi State (13-0) nipped Saint Joseph’s 4-1 on a chilly Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field. State and Saint Joseph’s (2-6) conclude their four-game weekend series with a doubleheader set for a 1 p.m. start at Dudy Noble Field.
Sophomore outfielder Tyler Fullerton delivered a pinch-hit RBI single in the seventh that scored pinch runner Derrick Armstrong and gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead. Designated hitter Mitch Slauter had opened the frame with a single and pinch-runner Armstrong swiped second base before trotting home on Fullerton’s game-winning RBI.
State added two more runs an inning later for a 4-1 lead, parlaying C.T. Bradford’s third hit of the game, a pair of walks, a wild pitch and a run-scoring infield groundout by Demarcus Henderson into a two-run burst.
“Today we were really battling the elements,” said John Cohen, who picked up his 100th Dudy Noble Field win as State’s baseball skipper. “We didn’t move around all that well, but I thought the weather had a lot to do with that. We pitched it pretty well even though we walked more (8) than we wanted to. Ross Mitchell was really the player of the day. He came in and steadied the ship and got us through the mid-innings.”
“On a day like today, all runs are very precious, and I thought we did a good job with situational hitting,” said Cohen. “We battled and found a way to win the ball game. Our kids love having the opportunity to compete and convert situations like we did today.”
Intermittent snow flurries, gusty winds and game time temperatures in the 30s were the weather order of the day as State played its 13th game in a 19-game home stand to open the season.
SJU’s Jordan Carter and State’s Evan Mitchell engaged in a pitching duel for much of the game. Kevin Kratochwill opened the game with a wind-blown double. Four batters Chris Hueth launched a sacrifice fly to center field, plating the game’s first run and the only marker allowed in the first inning thus far by Bulldog pitching.
The Bulldogs answered in their first at-bat when Adam Frazier singled to left, advanced to third on C.T. Bradford’s first hit of the game, and scored from third on a double play groundout off the bat of Alex Detz.
Carter retired 14 of the next 15 Bulldog batters he faced and ended a State threat in the sixth with a double play. He was charged with the loss, scattering six hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Steven Schuler, Shane Carey and Jimmy Yacabonis followed Carter on the mound in the seventh and eighth innings.
Ross Mitchell allowed but two base-runners during his three-inning stint before giving way to Jonathan Holder in the ninth. He picked up his fourth win in five relief appearances.
State opened with junior righty Evan Mitchell on the mound. The Marietta, Ga., product struck out a season-high nine and worked around three hits and five walks, leaving a 1-1 game after five innings of mound work. Sophomore Ross Mitchell (4-0) entered the game in the sixth, yielding a single and a walk in his first inning of work before retiring the final eight batters he faced.
The Hawks then staged a ninth inning threat against Bulldog relief ace Jonathan Holder. Holder walked the first batter he faced and allowed a one-out single and a second walk to load the bases. SJU rightfielder Greg Kumpel then grounded to third base, where Sam Frost triggered a game-ending double play. It was the 16th DP turned by the MSU defense this season and gave Holder his fourth save of the season. Holder is now tied with former MSU and current MLB pitching standout Jonathan Papelbon for eighth place among MSU’s career saves leaders with 13 successful game-closing performances.
The radio broadcast of both games of Sunday’s doubleheader will be carried as local-only broadcasts on Columbus’ WNMQ-FM (103.9).