Ross Mitchell and Jonathan Holder combined to toss ten scoreless innings, posting the third shutout in five games for the Bulldogs, to guide Mississippi State to a 1-0 victory in ten innings Saturday night at Dudy Noble Field in Starkville.
The Bulldogs (32-19, 15-11) picked up the winning run in the bottom of the tenth when C.T. Bradford led of the frame with a double, and was bunted to third base by Alex Detz. Tennessee (29-19, 11-15) then decided to walk Brett Pirtle to set up an inning ending double play ball, but Seth Heck foiled those plans with an RBI-single to end the contest.
The bigger story may be that it took the Bulldogs multiple opportunities to score that run as the Bulldogs left eleven runners on base during the contest.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs had bases loaded with one out, but a Jake Vickerson lined out to second base and Derrick Anderson struck out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Bulldogs again had the winning run 90 feet from home, this time with two outs, but Heck hit into a fielder's choice to end the threat. The story was not that Mississippi State could not get a hit—they had nine in the contest—it was that they struggled to get one in a scoring situation.
With a chance to win in the bottom of the ninth, Gavin Collins led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Cody Brown then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Collins to third with one out, but again, the Bulldogs failed to score.
For all of the offensive woes, the Bulldogs looked to be in cruise control on the mound.
Mitchell pitched the first 6.1 innings of the contest, striking out five and only allowing two hits. Mitchell only allowed one Tennessee runner to reach third base. That came in the fifth inning, which Mitchell ended with flyout after the runner reached third.
In the top of the seventh, Mitchell walked two of the first three batters he faced, and the Bulldogs made the move to Holder. After a double steal gave Tennessee runners at second and third, Holder struck out the next two Volunteers to end the the threat.
In all, Holder (5-1) struck out seven in 3.1 innings of work and did not allow a hit.
Tennessee's starter, Nick Williams went nine innings, scattering seven hits and striking out eight. Kyle Serrano (3-3) took the loss.
The two teams square off in the rubber game of the series at 1:30 at Dudy Noble Field Sunday in a contest that will feature the pink accented Mississippi State jerseys.