One of the things I love about baseball is that a game can completely swing one way or the other with one single innings. Teams could be deadlocked in a scoreless tie for six, seven, even eight innings, and all it would take is for one team to string a few hits together and them bam, it could be 5-0 before you even knew what happened. While it didn't take MSU eight innings to break things open on Sunday, they were able to pull away from the Western Carolina Catamounts with a big third inning en route to a 7-2 Sunday win which gave the Bulldogs a series victory as well.
MSU would enter the bottom half of the third inning in a scoreless tie with Western, but that would change quickly. A leadoff double by Demarcus Henderson followed by a Matthew Britton walk meant that MSU was in business in the inning. That was followed up by a foul-out and a pop-up, however, and all of a sudden the inning looked like it may be over just as quickly as it had gotten started. A walk to Alex Detz would keep things going though, and Wes Rea's hit by pitch following that gave MSU its first run of the game, and a 1-0 lead. That would bring Brett Pirtle to the plate, and Pirtle delivered, smashing a bases-clearing triple down the right field line. C.T. Bradford would lay down a fantastic squeeze bunt to score Pirtle in the following at-bat, and just like that, MSU held a commanding 5-0 lead.
That would prove to be all MSU needed, as the combo of Dakota Hudson, Preston Brown, Ben Bracewell, Austin Sexton, Will Cox, and Vance Tatum combined to hold W. Carolina to just two runs while scattering nine hits between the six of them. Bracewell (1-0) would grab the win with an inning and a third of scoreless relief.
State would go on to tack on two more runs late, giving MSU the 7-2 win and the series win as well. After a rough start on Friday, it was great to see MSU bounce back and claim the series victory over the #31 ranked Catamounts.
Freshman Dakota Hudson, who became the first freshman to start a game for MSU since Chris Stratton in 2010, wowed MSU fans early, recording two strikeouts in the first inning and reportedly touching 95-98 on the radar gun. Hudson did struggle a bit in the fourth inning, but he started strong, coming after hitters and filling the strike zone. I'm sure MSU would have liked to have seen him go a bit longer, but getting four innings out of him was still a strong start to his career. Hudson filled the strikezone better than some for MSU on the weekend, so I'm not as concerned about the length of his outing as some may be. He'll certainly get stronger of the season, and he looks like he could be a huge asset to MSU as the season progresses.
Offensively, well what do you say about Brett Pirtle? The guy has been nothing short of rock-steady since he entered the starting lineup last year, and that hasn't changed a bit so far this season. The thing about Pirtle, like his friend Hunter Renfroe said on the broadcast yesterday, is that he's such a tough out. Pirtle does not chase pitches, and he defends the plate well. Add to that a bit of pop and an ability to spray the ball, and you can see why he hit cleanup last year, and why he is yet again a key piece to MSU's potential success. As other, newer players work to find their stroke and their place in this lineup early on, it's comforting to know that State has a guy like Pirtle in the middle that you know is going to produce game in and game out.
The Bulldogs return to action Wednesday as the Memphis Tigers travel to Starkville. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.
Player of the Game
Brett Pirtle - 1 for 3, 3 RBI's
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