STARKVILLE, Miss. — The Mississippi State baseball team opened the final series of the regular season with a 27-2 loss to No. 1 Tennessee on Thursday night at Dudy Noble Field.
With the loss, the Bulldogs fall to 26-28 (9-19 SEC). The 25-run deficit marks the largest margin of defeat for the Bulldogs in a Southeastern Conference game. The 27 runs given up by the Bulldogs are the most since 1943. Tennessee improves to 47-7 (23-5 SEC). The Volunteers tied the single-game program record with seven home runs and totaled a season-high 25 hits to MSU’s five.
The Volunteers scored multiple runs in every inning except the second and fourth innings, while the Bulldogs scored single runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
Freshman Hunter Hines, junior Logan Tanner, sophomore Kellum Clark, senior Tanner Leggett and senior Brayland Skinner collected hits for MSU.
Tennessee was led by redshirt sophomore Jorel Ortega with five hits, eight RBIs and four runs, while senior Trey Lipscomb finished with four hits and four runs. Graduate student Evan Russell finished with four hits, three RBIs and two runs, graduate student Luc Lipcius had three hits, three RBIs and three runs and freshman Blake Burke had three RBIs and two runs on two hits. Junior Seth Stephenson had two hits, two RBIs and one run, while junior Drew Gilbert finished with two hits, two RBIs and two runs.
Senior pitcher Brandon Smith (3-5) lasted just three innings for the Bulldogs, giving up eight runs on 11 hits with one strikeout. Five pitchers followed Smith, including sophomore Mikey Tepper, senior Cam Tullar, freshman Jack Walker, freshman Cole Cheatham and senior Andrew Walling. Every MSU pitcher allowed three or more runs.
Tennessee sophomore Chase Dollander (8-0) tossed six hitless innings with six strikeouts and a walk. He was replaced by junior Mark McLaughlin after Tennessee added seven runs in the top of the seventh. McLaughlin allowed one run on three hits with two walks in two-thirds of an inning.
Freshman Wyatt Evans then allowed one run on one hit with two strikeouts in 1 1⁄3 innings, while sophomore Zander Sechrist fanned three of the four batters he faced in the ninth.
A groundout began the game before Lipcius, junior Jordan Beck and Gilbert hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to put Tennessee up 3-0.
In the top of the third inning, Stephenson hit a leadoff single and stole second. Lipcius then singled to put runners on the corners. A popup followed before Stephenson scored on Gilbert’s RBI sacrifice fly. Lipscomb then singled and Ortega scored a run with an RBI double down the left-field line. Burke followed with a three-run homer to right-center field to give the Volunteers an 8-0 lead.
In the top of the fifth, Lipscomb hit a one-out single and Burke walked to put two on with two outs. Russell’s double to left-center plated a run before Stephenson’s two-RBI single to center field made it 11-0.
Beck walked to begin the top of the sixth inning before Lipscomb singled through the left side. Ortega followed with a three-run homer to extend Tennessee’s lead to 14-0.
The Volunteers added seven runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 21-0 lead. Senior Christian Scott was hit by a pitch and Lipcius followed with a two-run homer to left field. Beck was then walked before Gilbert doubled. A wild pitch scored Beck and pushed Gilbert over to third. Lipscomb was walked before Ortega hit an RBI single through the left side. Two more runs scored on Russell’s two RBI double to left-center before Russell scored on Scott’s RBI single.
In the bottom of the seventh, senior Luke Hancock drew a leadoff walk and Tanner singled through the right side. Hines plated Hancock with an RBI single through the right side to make it 21-1.
Sophomore Kyle Booker was walked to begin the top of the eighth inning. A strikeout followed before Ortega homered to left-center to put Tennessee ahead 23-1.
The Bulldogs joined the home run parade in the bottom of the eighth inning when Leggett homered to left field to make it a 23-2 ballgame.
The Volunteers loaded the bases in the top of the ninth after junior Cortland Lawson was hit by a pitch and both Scott and Booker drew walks. Junior Logan Steenstra hit a three-RBI double to right-center before he scored on Ortega’s RBI double to end the game’s scoring at 27-2.
The Bulldogs will hope for a better performance in the second game of the series on Friday at 6 p.m. CT on SEC Network+.