STARKVILLE, Miss. (MSU Athletics) – Mississippi State’s offense drove in five runs with two outs in the third inning en route to a 7-2 series-clinching win versus Western Carolina Sunday afternoon at Dudy Field. The crowd of 8,061 in Starkville witnessed John Cohen’s 500th victory as a head coach (500-328-1) and his 179th as the skipper for the Maroon and White (177-132).
Deadlocked in a scoreless tie with two outs in the bottom of the third, preseason All-SEC first baseman Wes Rea was plunked with the bases loaded, giving the home team an early 1-0 lead. Next, senior second baseman Brett Pirtle drilled a bases-clearing triple down the right-field line, extending the margin to four. Fellow senior C.T. Bradford added the final run of the frame one at-bat later when the center fielder squeeze bunted for a single, driving in Pirtle.
State tacked on its final two runs in the eighth with an RBI single by redshirt junior catcher Zack Randolph and a bases-loaded walk by senior third baseman Alex Detz.
Western Carolina scored its first run of the game on a Jacob Hoyle solo home run in the fourth and plated its final run of the weekend on a Bradley Strong RBI single to center in the ninth.
The first true freshman to start on the opening weekend since Chris Stratton in 2010, Dakota Hudson earned a no decision in his collegiate debut. The righty went 4.0 innings, surrendering one run on four hits and striking out two with no walks. The freshman combo of right-hander Austin Sexton and lefty Vance Tatum also made their collegiate debuts, blanking the Catamounts in 2 1/3 innings. Senior right-hander Ben Bracewell picked up the win after recording 1.1 scoreless stanzas in relief.
The Bulldogs return to action this Wednesday at home vs. Memphis.