NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The No. 4 Mississippi State Bulldogs baseball team bounced back with a 7-4 win over No. 2 Vanderbilt on Saturday night at Hawkins Field to even the three-game series.
The Bulldogs (29-9, 11-6 SEC) handed Vanderbilt sophomore starting pitcher Jack Leiter (7-1) his first loss of the season as the Commodores drop to 30-7 (12-5 SEC).
MSU sophomore starting pitcher Will Bednar (3-1) tossed five innings, allowing one run on three hits with eight strikeouts and three walks.
Junior Preston Johnson entered the game in the sixth inning and pitched 1 1⁄3 innings. In the seventh inning, he hit the first batter and walked another batter and was replaced by sophomore closer Landon Sims.
Sims allowed two hits from the first two batters he faced, which allowed the Commodores to draw within three runs. He then struck out six of the last nine batters he faced and pitched a perfect ninth inning.
Sophomore Logan Tanner led the MSU offense with three hits, three RBIs and two runs. Senior Tanner Allen finished with two hits and two runs.
Leiter pitched five innings and allowed four runs on six hits with eight strikeouts and three walks.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Senior Rowdey Jordan led off with a home run to right field. Allen followed with a single before sophomore Kamren James drew a walk. Junior Luke Hancock brought Allen home with a single through the left side.
In the bottom half of the first inning, freshman Enrique Bradfield Jr. drew a walk and stole second. Sophomore Carter Young then drew a walk before Bradfield stole third. A sacrifice fly from freshman Jack Bulger made it 2-1.
After three scoreless innings, MSU increased its lead to 4-1. Allen led off by drawing a walk. A pair of strikeouts followed before Tanner hit a two-run blast over the left-field fence.
After a groundout began the top of the seventh inning, James doubled to left-center field. Hancock then drew a walk before Tanner ripped a ball down the left-field line to score James. A fielder’s choice scored Hancock and senior Brayland Skinner made it a 7-1 game when his bouncing single through the right side plated Tanner.
In the bottom half of the seventh, the Commodores made things interesting by drawing within three runs. Sophomore CJ Rodriguez was hit by a pitch to begin the inning before junior Isaiah Thomas drew a walk to place runners on first and second. Senior Cooper Davis hit a single up the middle to score one run and senior Jayson Gonzalez followed with a two-RBI single through the right side to make it a 7-4 ballgame.
The Commodores brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh, but they stranded runners on second and third to keep the game at 7-4.
The Bulldogs and Commodores will play a rubber match game on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT on SEC Network+.