By DANNY P. SMITH
The Mississippi State Bulldogs made all of the right pitching moves to upset the No. 2 team in the country and defending national champions Saturday night.
With starter Nick Routt and relievers Luis Pollorena and Caleb Reed, the Bulldogs were able to earn a 5-3 victory against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Dudy Noble Field.
Routt went the first 3 1/3 innings for MSU before being lifted after 59 pitches, then Pollorena kept the game close in the middle innings and Reed closed things down with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Reed got Adrian Morales to pop up to second baseman Adam Frazier with exactly 9 p.m. showing on the centerfield clock as the Bulldogs got a much-needed win in the Southeastern Conference.
Pollorena and Reed have become very valuable out of the bullpen, which Starkville Daily News beat writer Matthew Stevens set up very well in his story previewing the series.
The MSU bullpen now has a combined record of 12-2 and 10 saves with Pollorena improving to 5-2 and Reed getting his seventh save.
First baseman Ryan Collins of the Bulldogs had a front-row seat as Routt, Pollorena and Reed went about their business.
"Luis and Caleb have been lights out for us," Collins said.
Pollorena gave up the lead in the fourth inning as South Carolina plated three runs on three hits.
To Pollorena's credit, he held the Gamecocks scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings, then Reed took over from there.
As MSU seemed to know exactly what it was doing on the mound, South Carolina was searching, and searching, and searching.
It seemed like pitching coach Jerry Meyers of the Gamecocks was spending more time walking to the mound than staying in the dugout.
South Carolina went from starter Colby Holmes to John Taylor to Bryan Harper to Jose Mata in the sixth inning alone. In all, the Gamecocks used five pitchers with Tyler Webb finishing things up.
It was interesting to see the defending champs sweat and seemed to boost the spirits of the Bulldogs, who continue to pick up victories against some of the best teams in the country. Mississippi State has beaten ranked teams like Vanderbilt, Florida, Arkansas, Southern Mississippi and now South Carolina.
"Any time you can beat No. 2 in the nation at home, it sets us up really well at home so we can come out and win the series," Collins said. "If we can do that, it's huge, especially with how tight the league race is."
The second game of the series between the Bulldogs and Gamecocks turned out to be a great SEC baseball game for FOX Sports Net television and for the 2,648 who watched on the day before Easter.
The opportunity to watch athletic events such as the one witnessed Saturday is just another one of the advantages of living in a college town.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.