After tough losses in games one and two last weekend against LSU, State fans got a glimpse tonight of what this MSU team is really made of.
Powered by the white-hot bats of Hunter Renfroe and Adam Frazier, Mississippi State took game one tonight 8-4 over the #10 Kentucky Wildcats at Cliff Haggan Stadium. The win moved MSU to 21-4 overall, 2-2 in the SEC on the season, while Kentucky fell to 16-5 overall, 2-2 in the SEC.
The Bulldogs kicked off the scoring tonight, as Hunter Renfroe scored Adam Frazier on an RBI single up the middle to make it a 1-0 Bulldog lead in the top of the 1st. MSU would go on to add another run in the 4th on a Brett Pirtle RBI single that scored Wes Rea from 2nd. After Kentucky tallied two of their own in the bottom of the fourth, they were able to chase starter Jacob Lindgren (4.1 IP, 6H, 4R, 6K, 4BB, 1WP) from the game in the fifth, but not before adding two more runs to take a 4-2 lead.
Ross Mitchell came on for Lindgren and settled things down, but the Bulldogs would have to battle back from there. Unfortunately for Kentucky, State wouldn't let that lead last for long.
An error aided Wes Rea in leading off the 6th inning by reaching base, which was followed by Brett Pirtle and Daryl Norris singles to load the bases up without an out. After Demarcus Henderson was called out on strikes, Adam Frazier grounded one back at the 1B, who was unable to field it cleanly. That allowed a run to score, trimming Kentucky's lead to one. C.T. Bradford would push through a sac fly after that to tie things up at four, and suddenly, the Bulldogs had a chance to regain the lead with two outs. After a Hunter Renfroe infield single to load the bases again, Mitch Slauter stepped to the plate and lined a single, clearing the bases to give the Dogs a decisive 7-4 advantage, one that they would not relinquish.
After that it was smooth sailing for Ross Mitchell and company, as Mitchell finished the game out, finishing with a solid stat line of 4.2 IP, 5H, 0R, 3K. Mitchell also moved to 5-0 with the decision in the game; that win moved him to second in the SEC in wins overall.
Oh, and let's not forget, Hunter Renfroe would tack on a mammoth solo home run in the 9th to round out the scoring.
Overall, this was a very impressive outing for MSU. Even though Kentucky errors aided the big 6th inning, State hit the ball really well all night, registering 11 line drive outs in addition to 10 hits. Those line drive outs could have easily equated to more runs, so that makes the 8 they did score even more impressive. On the other side of the things, what can you really say about Ross Mitchell? The guy doesn't overwelm you on the mound, he just comes out, outing after outing, and makes really good pitches, getting batters to ground out and keep the ball in front of his fielders. He was a key part in MSU's SEC Tournament Championship last year as well. When your starters like Lindgren don't quite have their best stuff, it's guys like Ross Mitchell that save you and are your glue guys, keeping things together. Guys like Ross Mitchell get you deep into post season play.
After only using two guys in tonight's opening win, MSU now has the advantage of having a fully stocked bullpen at their disposal, leaving a plethora of options for tomorrow, when MSU will have two chances to take the series victory. That's right, I said two tomorrow, as MSU and Kentucky will play a double header to avoid potentially nasty weather on Sunday.
A great win out of a team that we knew had it in them. Hopefully they aren't satisfied, and they go out and get the series W tomorrow. Here's some more game notes from tonight, courtesy of winstoncountysfinest:
- State made their first trip to Lexington since 2008, John Cohen's final year at Kentucky.
- The Bulldogs turned their 33rd double play of the season to get out of the bottom of the sixth inning and their 34th to end the ball game. State leads the country in that category for the second year in a row.
- Hunter Renfroe extended his hitting streak to a career-long and team-leading 10 games. His RBI single in the first and solo home run in the 9th were his team-leading 31st and 32nd RBI this year. In his first two seasons (76 games) he managed only 27 RBIs. His three-hit ball game was his third three-hit game of the season and he has now had 10 multi-hit games.
- Adam Frazier's double to lead off the ball game meant that he has now hit in 22 of the Bulldogs 25 games this season and has him on a six-game hitting streak. He's also reached base safely in 23 of the games this season. It was his seventh double of the year while he also has four triples on the season to lead the SEC. He now has 41 hits on the year. 15 multi-hit games.
- With their 10 hits, the Bulldogs have now had 10-plus hits in six-consecutive ball games and have hit in double digits 16 times in 25 ball games.
MSU and Kentucky will hit the field tomorrow morning early at 11 a.m. CT for game two of the three game set. The game is set to be televised by Fox Sports South. Also, due to inclement weather expected for the Lexington region on Sunday, MSU and Kentucky will play a double header tomorrow. I'm a big fan of SEC play going back to this setup anyways, as that was how weekend series were played before it was changed to Fri-Sun.
winstoncountysfinest contributed to this game recap.