MSU's Adam Frazier prepares to throw the baseball to first base in Saturday's first game against Mississippi Valley State. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)
The Mississippi State Bulldogs benefitted from a little bit of Kansas misfortune in the seventh inning on Saturday afternoon to pick up their second win in as many days against the Jayhawks.
Kansas third baseman Zac Elgie dropped a fly ball off the bat of MSU's C.T. Bradford that allowed the lead run to score and the Bulldogs went on to take a 3-1 victory at Dudy Noble Field.
MSU coach John Cohen was happy to see his squad take a couple of close games from a Big 12 Conference opponent.
"They play real good competition," Cohen said. "They play Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State so they are not going to back down. This is like Southeastern Conference baseball and that's what we want."
Beating Kansas was the second decision of the day to go the Bulldogs' way as they also defeated Mississippi Valley State 13-5 to improve their record to 5-1.
With MSU trailing 1-0 going into the seventh inning, pinch hitter Taylor Stark led off the frame with a walk and was bunted to second base by Daryl Norris. After a walk to Matthew Britton, Adam Frazier drove home Stark to tie the game. Two batters later, Bradford got the bat on the baseball that was dropped by Elgie and allowed Britton to score the lead run.
"Those things happen, especially in foreign ballparks when you are on the road like they are and the ball is coming back over the playing surface," Cohen said. "That type of thing drives you crazy when it happens to you, but for some reason, it seems to happen on the road more than it does at home."
The Bulldogs got an insurance run in the eighth when Trey Porter was hit by a pitch and scored on a single by Norris.
The winning pitcher for MSU turned out to be Evan Mitchell in relief of Nick Routt.
Mitchell worked 2.2 innings and recorded a pair of strikeouts. He came into the game with a two-strike count on Kevin Kuntz and completed the strikeout.
"Coach (Cohen) said just be ready whenever you are called," Mitchell said. "I like coming into a game when it's already settled."
Mitchell picked up his first win of the season, while Caleb Reed worked a scoreless eighth and ninth innings to earn his first save.
With the ability that Reed has shown to shut down opponents out of the bullpen in his career, Mitchell had no problem turning things over to him.
"With Caleb Reed behind you, you're not going to be upset because he's an All-American and a competitor," Mitchell said.
Cohen liked the way all of his hurlers threw against the Jayhawks.
"Evan came in and did a great job and you can't say enough about Caleb," Cohen said. "Nick Routt threw 92, 93 (miles per hour) at times and threw some nice changeups."
Frazier and Norris had two hits for the Bulldogs, but nobody had an extra base hit.
Mississippi State 13,
Mississippi Valley State 5
Game one of the Saturday twinbill also saw the Bulldogs fall behind early to the Delta Devils of Mississippi Valley State 3-1 before the offense erupted in the fourth and fifth innings where they plated 12 runs and took the lead for good.
MSU opened the contest on shaky ground as it opted to give Demarcus Henderson, Sam Frost, and Nick Amirati their first starts of the season.
The new faces combined with a less than crisp start by Kendall Graveman on the mound aided the Delta Devils and their early lead.
"We did some simple things poorly so we had to make some adjustments," Cohen said of the first game effort.
MVSU plated a run each of the first three innings while the Bulldogs managed a run in the bottom of the first.Â In the fourth, however MSU caught fire when the usual suspects of Wes Rea, Mitch Slauter, and Bradford delivered with big hits opening the flood gates that led to a five-run fourth inning and a seven-run fifth inning.
"It took us a while to get going," said Frazier, who had four hits in the two games combined. "It's whatever it takes to win."
Rea, who collected three hits in the game, had a pair of RBI while Bradford added three RBI.
Trevor Fitts (1-0) earned the win for Mississippi State in his first outing as a Bulldog.Â The young righty allowed two runs on five hits, while striking out four in four innings of work.
In the final game of the three-day round-robin format for MSU, Cohen said Brandon Woodruff or Will Cox will be the starting pitcher against Mississippi Valley State today. The first pitch is set for 4 p.m.
(Editor's Note: MSU beat writer Michael Wardlaw contributed to this story.)
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