PEARL, Miss. (WCBI/MSU Athletics) – Mississippi State sophomore left-hand Ross Mitchell stands 6-foot-1.
Tuesday night Trustmark Park, Mitchell stood much taller than that.
A dominating six-inning relief performance by the Smyrna, Ten., native provided the difference as No. 16 Mississippi State knocked off No. 18 Ole Miss 5-1 in the seventh annual Governor’s Cup baseball game played before a stadium record crowd of 8,240 at the home of the minor-league Mississippi Braves.
“It feels great to come out here in front of all of these fans and pitch a good game and then get the win at the end,” Mitchell said. “I was able to get a lot of ground balls and it was a real good effort by everybody that came into the ballgame.
“Usually it’s a good thing to keep teams from seeing me on the second and third time through the other but tonight was because I just kept the ball low and had movement.”
The Bulldogs gained revenge for a 6-3 setback last year in this annual non-conference friendly with the rival Rebels. The teams meet again in a Southeastern Conference series in Oxford in May.
With the victory, MSU improved to 27-9. Ole Miss dropped its sixth straight decision to fall to 23-10. The Bulldogs are a perfect 9-0 in mid-week games and also notched their 16th victory out of the bullpen this season.
Brandon Woodruff drew that start for MSU. The sophomore right-hander was lifted after giving up three hits and the Rebels’ lone run in the second inning. Mitchell got the final two outs of the inning, while working around one walk.
For the night, Mitchell worked six innings, allowing two hits with four strikeouts and that lone walk. Jonathan Holder closed the contest with 1.2 innings of work, allowing only one hit and striking out four.
“I went down to the bullpen in the second inning and it kind of shocked me because apparently Woodruff was a little sore, so I needed to come in a little earlier than I expected to,” Mitchell said. “I attacked them the same way I normally do and after every game, it seems like I say the defense made every play possible.”
For the season, Mitchell is now 6-0 with a 0.98 earned run average. In 15 appearances, Mitchell has allowed only five earned runs in 46 innings of work. Holder was again his splendid self, even though he did not meet the qualifications for a save.
“The obvious thing here is Ross Mitchell really stepping in when we really needed him today,” said MSU head coach John Cohen, who has won six of the last night against in the arch-rival. “I thought he was just dominant and you’re talking about a guy that walked just one in six innings. Eighty pitches in six innings is pretty economic for us.”
The Bulldogs battled back from the 1-0 deficit with a single score in the fifth inning and two scores in each the sixth and seventh innings.
In his fifth career start, junior outfielder Derrick Armstrong started the fifth inning with a leadoff single. Taking second on a groundout and third on a wild pitch, Armstrong scored the game-tying run on an RBI-single by Alex Detz.
In the sixth inning, the Bulldogs grabbed the lead for good on a two-run RBI-single by Adam Frazier. Battling hard from the leadoff spot, Frazier fouled off three straight pitches before lining another 2-2 delivery to left field for the go-ahead scores with two outs. Two walks preceded the monster hit.
“Adam Frazier is a guy that you know is going to put a good swing on the ball and I think he got jammed a little bit but with two strikes that’s okay,” Cohen said. “He is just one of those guys that just gets hits and gets hits when it matters. He just knows how to play because he understands counts and how to get the barrel in position and that’s a skill that is hard to teach in an 18-year period before a kid ever gets to us.
“You either have that feel or you don’t and he has it.”
A Hunter Renfroe double started the MSU seventh inning. Renfroe scored on an RBI-single by Brett Pirtle. An RBI-single by C.T. Bradford capped the scoring.
Each team finished with six hits. Ole Miss catcher Stuart Turner was the lone multiple hitter for either team.
Ole Miss starting pitcher Josh Laxer was lifted in the fifth inning. Jeremy Massie (0-1) took the loss in relief.
MSU remains on the road this weekend for a three-game conference series at Texas A&M. The Bulldogs and Aggies meet at 6:35 p.m. Friday, 12:35 p.m. Saturday (SportSouth and ESPN3 in selected areas) and 1:05 p.m. Sunday.