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Series Recap: Hot Bats Lead Mississippi State to First SEC Series Win

The Diamond Dogs played their best baseball of the season in taking two games from South Carolina. Here is our recap and impact performers.

Mississippi State University |

Mississippi State hit the baseball with authority on the way to their first SEC series win of the season. The Bulldogs defeated #21 South Carolina 13-2 and 7-5 before the Gamecocks salvaged the final game of the series 13-7.

MSU improved to 21-13 and 5-7 in the SEC, and South Carolina fell to 21-11 and 6-6.

In game one, MSU gained momentum early after a six-run third inning propelled them to an 8-0 lead. The big hit in that inning was a bases clearing double from John Holland, who had a 3-for-5 day at the plate.

Holland, Cody Brown, Jacob Robson, Ryan Gridley, and Jake Vickerson all had multiple hits for MSU.

In game two, South Carolina held a 1-0 lead in the second inning for nearly an hour thanks to a rain delay. State ended that with six runs in the bottom of the inning and never trailed in the game again.

MSU was led offensively by multiple-hit games from Wes Rea, Vickerson, Gavin Collins, and Seth Heck. The Bulldogs left some runs on the board after stranding 12 for the game, but seven runs would be enough in the end.

South Carolina made a run at a comeback, but Trevor Fitts closed the game for the Dogs in the final two innings.

In the Saturday game, MSU was forced to use five different pitchers after the Gamecocks roughed up starter Vance Tatum.

The Dogs scored five runs in the final two innings but the damage of 13 South Carolina runs was too much to overcome.

A sweep would have been nice but the final game doesn't take away from what was the best series MSU has played all season.

Here were our impact performaces:

Hitter of the weekend: Jake Vickerson

Vickerson recorded multiple hits in all three games against the Gamecocks. He went 7-for-12, including three doubles, drove in four runs and scored five times to lead the Bulldogs' offensive attack. I've clamored all season for him to see more playing time. They need his bat at the top of the lineup. Vickerson has matured tremendously as a hitter from last season to this one.

Pitcher of the weekend: Lucas Laster

The senior lefty went the distance in his first SEC start of the season on Thursday night. Scattering eight hits and allowing only two earned runs in all nine innings, Laster pitched as well as you could ask for and more importantly saved the MSU bullpen for the rest of the series. He finished the game with eight strikeouts and only one walk.

Best individual play: Cody Brown's catch at the wall

MSU finally made it onto Sportscenter's top 10 this season thanks to a nice play from outfielder Cody Brown. He leaped at the wall and snagged a home run away from South Carolina right fielder Connor Bright for the final out of the 13-2 victory in game one. It wouldn't have changed the outcome of the game had it went over the wall, but the play was good enough to land #4 on Sportscenter's top 10.

Number that made the difference: 37

The MSU bats came alive Thursday and stayed hot for the entire series as they pounded out 37 hits over the three games. Twenty-seven of those hits came in the two Bulldog victories. That's a big accomplishment especially considering the talent South Carolina had on the mound.

MVP of the weekend: The offense as a whole

You really can't say enough about how well State pounded the baseball this weekend. They were aggressive but didn't try to do too much at the plate, and it payed off in a big way. Cody Brown, John Holland, Jake Vickerson, and several others looked more comfortable up there than they have all year. There was finally a consistent lineup all weekend and I think you will continue to see that going forward. Like they say, if it ain't broke don't fix it.

Additional thoughts

Baby steps. Everybody wanted a sweep after the first two games, but the importance of finally winning an SEC series cannot be overstated. You have to start somewhere. Hopefully the momentum can continue into next week. The bad news is you have to go on the road next weekend to Texas A&M who has only lost two games all season.

I was surprised to see Laster thrown into the weekend rotation. The starting pitching has been the most consistent position on the team, so it was surprising that they decided to mix that up. Austin Sexton will now likely start the midweek game this week. That's taking a solid arm away that you could throw against an SEC team. It's an interesting move.

Something changed this weekend. I don't know if it was the lineup staying the same or if it was Carolina's pitchers not performing up to par, but MSU didn't look like the same team at the plate. They were loose, swung at good pitches, and finally found a way to string multiple hits together in a row. After the first game, it was easy to see their confidence was through the roof the rest of the weekend.