On a frigid evening at Dudy Noble Field, the Mississippi State Bulldogs road a career ball game from sophomore Jacob Lindgren and used 10 runs on 12 hits to win game one of the four-game series against the St. Joseph's Hawks, 10-0.
Adam Frazier and C.T. Bradford continued their incredible one-two punch by combining to go 4-for-7 with four RBIs and Demarcus Henderson added a team-best 3-for-4 performance including a double. But the best news of the night came with the return of 6-5 275-pound first baseman Wes Rea as he came back to the starting lineup for the first time since the second ball game of the year and went 2-for-2 before being pulled in the top of the fifth inning.
Lindgren (2-0) trotted out to the mound with nine strikeouts in his first two appearances as a starter this season. He would far surpass that total by the end of the night. Lindgren started the second inning giving up a one-out single but would then send back 12-consecutive Hawk batters striking out eight of those. All told, Lindgren would strike out nine of the 11 batters he faced at one point while also striking out the side in the fifth and sixth innings. He would pitch a career-high 7.0 innings, giving up just one hit with no runs and 13 K's.
With strong pitching and defense for the Dawgs came an even more relaxed and comfortable offense. MSU would get on the board in the second inning starting with Rea's first at-bat in some time. Rea smashed the ball through the right side past the first baseman and into right field but the right fielder couldn't handle the ball and Rea rumbled all the way to third. Tyler Fullerton would bring him home in the next at-bat with a single into the outfield and the Bulldogs took the 1-0 lead. A Demarcus Henderson double and Daryl Norris groundout would bring Fullerton home and the Bulldogs held a 2-0 advantage after two.
Leading 4-0 going into the fifth, State would get another big inning starting with a lead-off walk to Norris. Freshman Kyle Hann hit a ball hard to the shortstop that wasn't handled firmly and reached on an error. A single by Frazier loaded the bases. Bradford struck out and Slauter brought a run in on a sacrifice fly bringing up Juco-transfer Alex Detz who replaced Rea in the lineup. State's leading RBI man slapped a double into the gap to bring home two and completely break the game open at 7-0.
One more big inning would put the game completely out of reach in the sixth. Jacob Robson was hit by a pitch before advancing to second on a wild pitch. Henderson would single followed by a Matthew Britton flyout and a Sam Frost walk to load the bases once again for the SEC's leading hitter, Frazier. Frazier knocked a ball through the gap in right field clearing the bases and giving him his fourth triple of the season and the Dawgs would lead 10-0 after six.
Strong pitching and hitting is now becoming MSU's forte through the first half of the schedule and is making this team even more dangerous as each game passes. A major problem in last year's team, hitting has been the most improved part of the 2013 version of the Bulldogs as they lead the conference in batting and are already showing more run production than last season.
John Marc Shelly provided two strong innings of relief striking out two batters and giving up no runs as the Bulldogs posted their third shutout of the season.
MSU now returns to play tomorrow against the Hawks at 12 p.m. on another cold day in Starkville. Junior Evan Mitchell (0-0, 2.25) will get his third start of the season on the mound. Following the baseball game at noon will be a 4 p.m. tip-off against the Ole Miss Rebels in basketball action at the Humphrey Coliseum.
Stuff to Chew on
- ONE-TWO PUNCH: Frazier and Bradford continue to be a terror at the leadoff and number two position in the batting order. A 4-for-7 collective hitting day meant that the two kept their respective hitting streaks alive. Both have now hit safely in 11 of 12 games. Frazier has reached base via base hit in the last eight ball games and Bradford has reached base safely in all 12 games. Frazier recorded his eighth multi-hit game of the season with Bradford garnering his sixth. Frazier's triple extends his SEC lead to four with his 22 hits leading the conference as well.
- BIG TIME WES: Rea returned to the starting lineup for the first time since the second game of the season against Portland. The big first baseman made his presence known with a 2-for-2 showing and a run scored as-well-as some nice plays on putouts at first base.
- ALEX-ELENT: Juco-transfer Alex Detz continues to be one of the Bulldogs biggest contributors at the plate as he replaced Rea in the fifth and immediately went to work with a two-run double. The two RBIs extended his team-leading number to 14. He also is second on the team in batting average (.429).
- JUST CALL HIM MONEY: Lindgren came in to Friday night's game with nine strikeouts but had two solid starts prior to his third start. None of his previous appearances were quite as good as they were tonight, however. Lindgren set career highs in innings pitched (7.0) and strikeouts (13) while also giving the Bulldogs their season-best strikeout total and most since Chris Stratton last season (March 14, 2012; LSU). The sophomore southpaw had only two balls leave the infield (One flyout; One single) and pitched a one-hit shutout in his 7.0 innings. His current line: 2-0, 0.98 ERA, 18.1 IP, 9 H, 2R, 22 K's.
- DOUBLE DAWGS: MSU turned it's SEC-leading 15th double play of the season on the final at-bat of the ball game Friday night. The Bulldogs are a year removed from leading the country in the category.
- TWO-HEADED MONSTER: MSU struggled to find their swing consistently in 2012 but all of that is changing in 2013. The Bulldogs scored double-digit runs for the fourth time in their first 12 games after recording only five of those games in the entire season a year ago. State has also seen three-straight games of the double-digit scoring variety. In addition, State has hitters consistently smacking base hits with nine players with at least 20 at-bats batting over .300. The pitching and defense got the job done without great hitting last year, but this year the team looks even more dangerous with an SEC-leading .338 batting average and the second-best pitching staff with a 1.42 ERA.
- RIDING THE MAROON TIDAL WAVE: First of all, I promise never to reference the maroon tidal wave again. The Bulldogs are getting it done at Dudy Noble. State has won their first 12 at home this year, and adding the three-game sweep of Kentucky in 2012 puts the Dawgs at 15-straight home wins. The 12-consecutive wins to start the 2013 season makes for the best start since 2006 when the Ron Polk-lead Diamond Dawgs started the season 18-0 and drew a No. 1 ranking. That team failed to make the SEC Tournament. Don't expect that kind of collapse out of this team.
- WHAT DID ROBBIE EAT FOR DINNER: Finally, I know you are all wondering what is in my belly right now. Last ball game I ate a Big Mac. This week I enjoyed a juicy club sandwich from McCallister's Deli with a large sweet tea and a bag of Bar-B-Que Lays. Yeah... THAT happened.