After over two hours of combined rain delays and strong pitching from both staffs, the Bulldogs were able to hold off the Purdue Boilermakers 3-2 Friday night in the opening day of the Diamond Classic in Starkville. Two Hunter Renfroe RBIs, one which was a solo home run, helped lead the Bulldogs with strong pitching from start to finish.
The Bulldogs (6-0) were lead on the mound early by sophomore southpaw, Jacob Lindgren. Lindgren began the game with an out before hitting a batter who would steal second and give the Boilermakers (3-3) a runner in scoring position early. But the next batter lined a shot into shallow right field only to have Renfroe make a spectacular diving catch to keep the runner at-bay. Lindgren struck out the batter to end the inning and would retire the next nine through the five innings.
Going into the sixth inning scoreless, Lindgren would give up a couple of hits and was lifted in favor of freshman reliever, Myles Gentry. Lindgren would go 5.1 strong innings giving up three hits and one earned run, striking out six. Gentry walked the first batter he faced to load the bases and a grounder to Adam Frazier that was bobbled allowed for only one out to second base bringing in the first run of the ballgame. Gentry would ground out the next batter and MSU would come into the bottom of the sixth inning facing their first deficit of the season.
The lead, however, would be short-lived for the Boilermakers as Renfroe would crank a solo shot to deep center field. The home run came just one at-bat after he had a home run robbed in left field in the fourth inning.
State then took to the plate in the seventh with Frazier at the dish and two down. Frazier had reached in his previous four at-bats recording a couple of singles in the game already. He walked and C.T. Bradford followed that up with a single to put runners on first and second. After that single, officials took to the field and the tarps were pulled out for ensuing storms.
After a 94-minute wait, catcher Mitch Slauter stepped to the plate only to be plunked on the first pitch to load the bases. Renfroe followed suit, making him the third Bulldog of the game to be hit, taking one inside to give the Bulldogs the lead for the first time of the night, 2-1.
Luis Pollorena became the fourth Bulldog pitcher into the game and he continued the stronghold from the relievers putting down the first two batters he faced. But back-to-back two-out hits, the second an RBI double by Kyle Wood, tied the game up at two and brought sophomore Jonathan Holder in to close the door.
Holder ,who we wrote about earlier this week, entered the game striking out eight of the first nine batters he had faced this season in 3.0 innings. The freshman All-SEC closer immediately made easy work on the batter striking him out and ending the inning.
State started the eighth with Juco transfer Alex Detz who has been covering first base for the Bulldogs with Wes Rea healing an injury. Detz walked and was pinch run for by newcomer Derrick Armstrong. The junior speedster went straight for second base on a steal as the ball sailed into center and took third to give the Bulldogs the scoring threat with no outs. Pinch hitter Jacob Robson then sent a line drive into left that brought Armstrong home and would eventually be the Bulldogs winning tally at 3-2.
The Bulldogs survived the game with an easy top half of the ninth as Holder struck out a pair and grounded out the last batter to Rea who entered the game defensively.
Once again, State showed that on any given night whether the hits are coming or not, they have an opportunity to win thanks to pitching and defense. Both teams tallied five hits, but the six walks and three hit batsmen proved to be the breaking point for Purdue. Holder (1-0) recorded the win for State.
The Bulldogs now gear up for a double-header following the MSU men's basketball game Saturday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. State will take on Samford at 3 p.m. and Purdue at 6 p.m. with Evan Mitchell and Kendall Graveman on the mound, respectively.
- Lindgren tied a career-high with his six strikeouts in 5.1 innings pitched
- Frazier continued his streak of consecutive-games reaching base as he successfully got on in his first four at-bats with his first two being singles.
- Renfroe's solo shot was his first of the season and fifth in his three-year MSU career. Three of his five career home runs have come at Dudy Noble Field in one of the toughest hitting parks in America.
- Renfroe has also hit safely in each of six Bulldog games this year for a six-game hitting streak.
- State's 1-0 deficit in the sixth inning was the first deficit the Bulldogs have faced this year and lasted just three pitches into the next inning when Renfroe hit one over the fence.
- Prior to Pollorena's earned run in the eighth inning, the Bulldog bullpen had given up only one run in 21.0 innings pitched with nine hits and 29 strikeouts.
- After Holder's performance tonight, he has now pitched 4.1 innings, recording two saves and a win. He's also struck out 11 of the 14 batters he's faced and allowed no one to reach base.
- MSU, as a staff, has given up only five runs in the first 54 innings, a school record.
- I had a Big Mac for supper