Mississippi State used the bats and the arms for a near perfect all-around game to defeat the Memphis Tigers 12-1 Tuesday night at AutoZone Park in Memphis. Evan Mitchell got his first start in a month but struggled through the first with three walks before getting a strikeout to leave the bases loaded. Another walk in the second meant another quick exit for the junior hurler as he gave way to Ross Mitchell.
Mitchell (8-0, 0.97) did what he has done all year and threw six strong innings striking out three batters and allowing only a run on three hits. The performance kept him under a run in earned run average, a category in which he not only leads the team but the SEC as well with the fourth-best numbers in the country. Additionally, his eighth win pace the team.
State hit the board early in the first inning with a one-out double by Alex Detz being rewarded with Brett Pirtle driving him in with two outs and giving MSU the 1-0 lead before Memphis could bat.
The score would remain the same until three-consecutive hits in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded and only one out, Demarcus Henderson laid down a suicide squeeze to drive in Pirtle and the Maroon and White carried a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning.
The Diamond Dawgs would then break it open. After a one-out Adam Frazier double and a Detz walk, Hunter Renfroe stepped to the dish and smashed a ball deep to left field for a three-run home run. The home run finally came with runners on base for Renfroe who had hit seven consecutive solo shots. It was his 14th dinger of the year, putting him in the lead in the conference and in sole possession of second place in the country.
MSU would add two more in the seventh with a lead-off walk by Renfroe followed up by a Pirtle triple driving him in. Wes Rea would hit a ball deep enough to bring Pirtle home and State had the 7-1 lead.
An academic five-run ninth just padded the score for the Bulldogs and they would get a key midweek win heading into the big weekend against #3 Vanderbilt.
Following Mitchell's strong performance, State had two combined shut-out innings from Trevor Fitts, Chad Girodo and Ben Bracewell giving up a total of one hit and striking out two batters.
MSU's offense was led by Pirtle who garnered a career-high four hits in five at bats with two RBIs and three runs scored. They also got two-hit performances from Renfroe (2-for-4; HR, BB, 3RBI, 3R) and Frazier (2-for-5; 2B, R).
The #10 Bulldogs improved to 33-10 on the season and now take the toughest trip of the year to Nashville to take on the Commodores (35-6, 16-2).
Pitching rotation is expected to be Luis Pollorena (6-1, 3.38) on Friday at 6:30 p.m, Kendall Graveman (5-3, 2.06) on Saturday at noon and Jacob Lindgren (4-1, 2.54) on Sunday at 1:30.
- PIRTLE MANIA: There's no coincidence that the Bulldogs began to go on a run this season when the lineup was shuffled around. Sitting at 23-8 and losing four-consecutive weekend series by close margins, MSU had to get a lineup with consistency and that's what they got by moving Renfroe to the third spot and Pirtle to cleanup. In the 12-game period in which he has batted in the four spot, the Dawgs are 10-2 and he has garnered 16 hits, eight RBIs and seven runs. Pirtle collected a few big RBI knocks Tuesday with an RBI single in the first and his first-career triple in the seventh driving in another. He had a 4-for-5 night with two RBIs and two runs scored. The four hits were a career high for the Juco transfer. He also has hit safely in 10 of the last 11 games.
- BACK IN THE GROOVE: Frazier missed his first-career Bulldog homer in the fifth inning with a double off of the wall. The lead-off hitter might be small in stature, but he leads the team in doubles (13) and triples (5). He is back in his groove it seems and now is on a six game hitting streak. His two-hit night was his 19th multi-hit game of the season.
- BASE ON DETZ: Detz's patience at the plate might be the best in the league. The junior took his 36th walk of the season which is second in the conference and 14th nationally.
- "HR": Think Hunter Renfroe's parents knew the slugger was gonna be a baseball player when they named him? The future first rounder hit his SEC-leading 14th home run of the year driving in three runs to also put him at 45 RBI on the season. His home run total is good for second in the country with his RBI total in the top four of the league and top 30 in the country. He went 2-for-4 against Memphis with a home run, three runs scored and three RBI.
- RUBBER ARM ROSS: Mitchell is just incredible. Since coming to MSU, he hasn't had anything that's wowed the scouts other than his ability to manage a game better than just about any MSU pitcher and that's as a freshman and now a sophomore. He leads the SEC in ERA and got his team-leading eighth win of the year without a single loss and all out of the bullpen. The super soph retired the first 13 batters he faced Tuesday night and went six strong innings of three-hit, one-run ball. That one run was the first surrendered in the past 16 innings.
- DOUBLE DAWGS KEEP DOUBLIN': The State defense turned their 58th double play of the year in the eighth inning. They lead the league and the country in that category for the second season in a row.
- MIDWEEK DOMINATION: The maroon and white stayed perfect in the midweek with their win and now are one ball game away from being perfect against midweek competition. For the season State is 23-2 in non conference play and 10-0 in midweek games. Nice for RPI purposes.