STARKVILLE, Miss. (MSU Athletics) – Mississippi State enjoyed its return to Dudy Noble Field by producing one of its best offensive nights of the season.
Facing Vanderbilt All-American Tyler Beede, the 17th-ranked Bulldogs went on the attack early, scoring 11 runs over the first three at-bats of a 17-2 win over the third-ranked Commodores.
With the win, MSU improved to 16-8 overall and 3-1 in league play. Vanderbilt fell to 19-4 and 2-2. The Bulldogs are off to their best start in league play since the 2006 season.
Beede (4-2) entered the contest with a 0.84 earned run average and had only allowed 14 total hits in 32.1 innings of work. The Bulldogs reached the junior right-hander for six hits and 11 runs (five earned). Vanderbilt also committed a season-high five errors in the contest.
“The only thing negative about anything that happened here tonight was the fact that we made Vanderbilt mad,” MSU head coach John Cohen said.”Obviously, they will be embarrassed at how they played and they will come out and play really well the next two days.
“We will have to play really well on our end to have a chance to win a series.”
On the MSU side of things, sophomore right-hander Preston Brown made the most of his first career start in conference play by recoding his third quality start of the season. Brown (3-0) worked eight innings, allowing seven hits and two runs (both earned), with three strikeouts and a walk. Brandon Woodruff threw a scoreless ninth inning.
“Preston really gave us a chance tonight,” Cohen said.”He got a ton of ground ball outs. We want the game to be played on the infield. That is when we are at our best. We gave him this opportunity because we thought he was the style of pitcher we needed to throw on a Friday night.
“After the second inning, Vanderbilt did not put a lot of pressure on him.”
Brown retired the side in order in the top of the first inning, with two strikeouts. The Bulldogs quickly went to work on offense, scoring four runs.
Jake Vickerson and Alex Detz began the inning with back-to-back base hits. After a strikeout, Brett Pirtle followed with a hit. The Bulldogs scored on a bases-loaded walk, wild pitch and two ground ball outs.
Brown worked around his tough spot in the second inning, only to find more offense in the bottom of the inning. A pair of errors opened the door. Seth Heck followed with an RBI-double down the left field line. Heck had his fourth multi-hit game and drove in a career high four runs.
“The thing about Seth is he has been crushing the ball for the last couple of weeks and had nothing to show for it,” Cohen said. “He didn’t change anything he was doing, which is hard for a young hitter. He stayed patient, kept working at it and now those balls are finding the holes. That and he is playing a great shortstop for us.”
The Bulldogs chased Beede with five runs in the third inning. The big blow was a two-run single by Wes Rea.
MSU stretched the lead with three runs in the fifth inning, including an RBI-single by Demarcus Henderson and back-to-back sacrifice line outs by Zack Randolph and Derrick Armstrong.
The Bulldogs completed the scoring with Randolph’s third RBI in the seventh inning and a sacrifice fly by Heck in the eighth inning.
MSU finished with 14 hits, including a three-hit night by Pirtle and two-hit nights by Rea, Heck, Henderson and Armstrong.
Vanderbilt finished with eight hits and had no multiple hitters.
The series resumes at 7:30 p.m. Saturday with a scheduled pitching matchup between MSU junior left-hander Ross Mitchell (3-1, 1.50) and VU junior left-hander Jared Miller (5-0, 0.57). ESPNU will have a national broadcast from Dudy Noble Field.
The series finale is at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.