Trevor Fitts and Vanderbilt starter Tyler Ferguson decided that they were tired of all of the offense that's been going on this weekend, so they turned Sunday's game into an old-fashioned pitcher's duel. The duo held each others teams scoreless through six complete innings in a game that was much different than Friday's 17-2 and Saturday's 6-3 wins by MSU.
The scoreless tie would have to end eventually, however, and it did so by way of a Vanderbilt run in the 7th. The Commodores would add two more runs each in the 8th and 9th innings to close the door on any chance of a Bulldog win, sealing a 5-1 victory. Vanderbilt closer Carson Fulmer worked the final three innings to earn the save, as he gave us just one earned run on one hit while striking out four to earn his 7th save on the young season.
Mississippi State had a chance to get back into the game in the bottom of the 8th inning when Matthew Britton led things off with a walk. Gavin Collins took ball four in the following at-bat, but somehow in the confusion of Britton stealing second the pitch was called a strike. A wild pitch to Jake Vickerson moved Matthew Britton up to third, and a sac fly by Vickerson drove home MSU's first run of the game. Had Collins not been erroneously called out on strikes, there's a chance State could have added another run in the eighth, however they were held to just one, which would be the final tally for the game.
The good news is that Sunday's game was without consequence for MSU, as the Bulldogs had already taken the ultra-important series from the Commodores with a win each on Friday and Saturday night. If State's Friday offensive fireworks display was impressive, Saturday's duel was even more impressive in that State never let its foot off the gas against Vandy. Make no mistake that Vanderbilt is still a top ten team in the country. I think this weekend's results were more about MSU showing that it was a top ten team as well than Vandy showing that it was not.
Overall, the most impressive thing to me on the weekend was the pitching staff. All three starters were outstanding, which is a really positive sign after Bulldog starting pitching had struggled some in early non-conference series. I would be surprised if we see a different rotation than what we saw this past weekend, as all three pitchers have earned starting spots. If Preston, Ross, and Trevor can hold on to those spots, that leaves MSU with a lot of options out of the bullpen going forward. Ben Bracewell and Dakota Hudson could now become key middle relief guys, forming the gel between the starters and Jonathan Holder that was made up by Ross and Chad Girodo last year. That was a key component to last year's run, so the middle relief performance will be just as key going forward as the starting pitching performance is.
Offensively, it was an impressive weekend for several Bulldogs, most notably Seth Heck. Heck has turned the shortstop position - one that was completely up in the air at the season's start - into one of the most solid positions on the team. Early on he displayed defensively why he should be a starter at short, but this weekend he proved that he can contribute just as much offensively as he can with the glove. Heck had six RBIs on the weekend, and realistically he was about 15 feet away from notching a grand slam, and taking that number to eight. His work along with the entire team's work against Vandy All-American Tyler Beede on Friday proved that State came to play this weekend. I think it's safe to say that we as State fans are more than happy with the results.
The Bulldogs will take on Southeast Missouri tomorrow at Dudy Noble before welcoming in Arkansas for another weekend home conference series.