Tanner Gaines was lights out for the Mississippi State Bulldogs Tuesday night.
With 4 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball, Gaines helped his team pick up the 7-3 victory over Penn State. The Bulldog right-hander entered the game in the third inning in relief of C.T. Bradford, who earned his first start of the season.
Gaines credits his breaking ball as being a difference maker against the Nittany Lions and helping MSU improve to 11-2. “My breaking ball was really working for me (Tuesday night),” said Gaines, who earned the first win of his career.
“I was really getting my breaking ball over for a first pitch strike and that was my main thing, trying to stay ahead.”
Penn State, which fell to 2-8, scored a run in each of the first three innings off Bradford due to walks and a pair of Bulldog errors. “He just didn’t have the command,” said MSU head coach John Cohen. “He is just rusty, it was his first time out. We’ve just seen glimpses of something that could be spectacular but he just can’t do the same routine as our other pitchers because he is a great leadoff guy and a great centerfielder.”
The Bulldogs answered in the first with a Wes Rea double to left scoring Bradford, who was hit by a pitch and Adam Frazier who reached on a walk. State added two additional runs in the second inning off a pair of Nittany Lion wild pitches after a Demarcus Henderson single and a Frazier walk, leading 4-2.
With Penn State adding a run in the third, Gaines entered the game protecting a 4-3 MSU lead and simply slammed the door shut.
“We needed him (Tuesday night),” said Cohen. “My goodness, we played four games and I believe we threw nine guys last weekend. We needed somebody to step up.”
When asked if this was something he expected from Gaines, Cohen simply knew it was in him.
“Tanner is a guy who walked on a year ago and we’ve always loved the arm," Cohen said. "We were just waiting for the command to show up. (Tuesday night) he was in rhythm and the breaking ball was good.”
Mississippi State turned the game over to closer, Caleb Reed, in the eighth, giving him the opportunity to pick up his third save of the season allowing no hits while striking out a pair.
At the dish, State scored seven runs on seven hits and stranded 10 runners on base. On the mound, MSU hurlers were effective combining to allow three runs on five hits with 10 strikeouts.
The two teams get together once again tonight with a 6:30 p.m. scheduled first pitch at Dudy Noble Field.