Vanderbilt managed to get to Mississippi State starter Ross Mitchell early in their matchup Saturday night at Dudy Noble Field in Starkville, but the Mitchell and the Bulldogs bounced back to pick up a 6-3 series clinching victory, halting a streak of 15-straight SEC series victories for the Commodores.
Mitchell, tabbed by the SEC as the pitcher of the week after a 2-hit performance versus Georgia last weekend, found a trouble in the first frame against Vanderbilt. Mitchell (4-1) hit Vanderbilt's lead off batter, Ro Coleman, and issued a walk to Dansby Swanson to open the game. A sacrifice bunt by Bryan Reynolds moved the runners into scoring position, and Zander Wiel knocked them both in to put the Commodores (19-5, 2-3) ahead 2-0 after one inning.
Mitchell only allowed five hits over the next 6.1 innings, and he and his defense kept Vanderbilt off the scoreboard during that span to give Mississippi State a chance to get back into the contest. The Bulldog batters took advantage of that opportunity.
Seth Heck and Demarcus Henderson drew back-to-back walks to open the home half of the second inning, and they moved to second and third on a ground ball out by Zack Randolph. Derrick Armstrong then hit a ball to right field, allowing Heck to tag up from third and cut the Vanderbilt lead to 2-1.
In the third inning, the Bulldogs moved into the lead 3-2. Alex Detz drew a walk and moved to second on a Wes Rea single, and after being advanced another base on a Brett Pirtle single, both scored on a 2-RBI double by Heck to give Mississippi State the lead. The Bulldogs had an opportunity for more, but an out at the plate on a squeeze play that saw Pirtle thrown out at home ended the Mississippi State threat.
The Bulldogs tacked on another run in the fifth when Pirtle scored on a throwing error after Cody Brown reached on a fielder's choice, and Mississippi State tacked on a fifth run in the seventh when Armstrong drew a bases loaded walk to force Pirtle across the plate to put Mississippi State ahead 5-2.
After Mitchell gave up a double to Wiel with one out in the top of the eighth, Mississippi State skipper John Cohen decided to bring in All-American closer Jonathan Holder to relieve Mitchell. Holder struck out the first two batters he faced to end the inning and leave the runner stranded on second.
Mississippi State tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Detz picked up a leadoff double and Jacob Robson came in to run for him. Robson later scored on a sacrifice fly from Pirtle to increase the Mississippi State lead to 6-2.
Down to their last at-bat, the Commodores opened the top of the ninth with back-to-back singles to put a runner on third, and a ground out later scored Rhett Wiseman before Holder (3) and the defense got Mississippi State out of the frame with a 6-3 victory.
The save moved Holder into fourth-place all time in the SEC with 33rd career save. He now shares that mark with former Georgia pitcher Cris Carpenter.
Jared Miller (5-1) picked up the loss for the Commodores, his first of the season.
The Bulldogs go for the sweep today at Dudy Noble Field. Game three is scheduled for a 1:30 starter. Mississippi State junior Trevor Fitts (2-0) is scheduled to face sophomore Tyler Ferguson (3-0).