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The combination of a freshman pitcher and the wind blowing out of Dudy Noble Field was the perfect prescription for the Mississippi State offense.
The Bulldogs took the weekend series with a 14-5 victory Sunday over Belmont in which they hung eight runs on Bruins left-hander pitcher James Buckelew in his second career start of college baseball.
â€śAny time youâ€™re in the other dugout and see a freshman pitcher, itâ€™s a pretty good feeling because heâ€™s seeing things heâ€™s never experienced,â€ť Mississippi State head coach John Cohen said.
After allowing the first two runners on, Mississippi State senior third baseman Jarrod Parks set the tone with bats early by crushing a fastball deep over Left Field Lounge for a 3-0 lead before a single out had been recorded by Belmont.
â€śAs soon as I hit it, I knew it was going to go,â€ť Parks said. â€śThe winds were blowing straight out, so it wasnâ€™t going to take much to get it out. We wanted to attack early because we felt like they did not have much left in the bullpen.â€ť
The fifth-year senior, who has fully recovered from back surgery that kept him out of the 2010 season, is now hitting .429 with five extra base hits in 28 at-bats in 2011.
â€śWe knew they didnâ€™t have much left in the pen if we could get up on top early and thatâ€™s exactly what we did,â€ť Parks said.
Parksâ€™ long ball was joined by the first home runs of the season for senior first baseman Ryan Collins and freshman outfielder Taylor Stark.
The Bulldogs (7-1) got 10 of the gameâ€™s first 11 runs after a pair of RBI singles were followed by a three-run error when a pop fly by MSU senior catcher Wes Thigpen was dropped near first base with the bases loaded. All three Bulldogs runners managed to circle the bases and make a 10-1 deficit for Belmont, which lost the final two games of the three-game tilt after taking the opener 2-1 Friday.
Throughout the first eight games, Mississippi State has outscored its opponents 28-1 in the first two innings of contests.
â€śI was really, really pleased with how we started the game all the way around,â€ť Cohen said. â€śI thought we were focused and obviously our starting pitching was good all three games this weekend.â€ť
There were 12 different Mississippi State players who collected a hit Sunday with Parks and the first base combination Daryl Norris and Ryan Collins get multi-hit days.
Mississippi State got another strong effort on the mound and Sundayâ€™s performance was the first collegiate start of the career of Evan Mitchell. The 6-foot-2 right hander from Marietta, Ga., went six strong innings giving up just a pair of runs off five hits in a economical 78 pitches.
â€śIt was real exciting and it turned out real nice for me,â€ť Mitchell said. â€śI was trying to stick to the plan that (MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson) and Thigpen came up for me.â€ť
The freshman is trying to make a case for himself in the non-conference slate as the third starter in the MSU pitching rotation as the competition with him and left-handers Tim Statz and Chad Girodo heats up over the next month.
â€śWe sent a freshman out there and he showed heâ€™s a real mature kid,â€ť Cohen said. â€śIn our league with as much left-handed offense there is, itâ€™s hard to go in there with three right-handed starters on the weekend but you got to pitch your best guys and Evan may be one of those guys.â€ť
Mississippi State will continue its season-opening 14-game homestand with a 5 p.m. contest against Alcorn State Tuesday.