Two hits – that’s it.
That’s all the Mississippi State Bulldogs could muster in Sunday’s series finale with the No. 22 Ole Miss Rebels.
The good news for the Bulldogs is the two hits were more than enough to clinch the series with a 4-2 victory.
“If you would have asked me before the game if I would like to lose this game with 15 hits or win this game with two, I would take what we got,” said MSU head coach John Cohen. “It is no secret that we are not a great offensive club right now, but our kids are doing what it takes.”
The Bulldogs improved to 27-17 overall and 10-11 in league play and in a three-way tie with the Rebels who fell to 28-16 and 10-11 in the league.
It was the first conference start of the season for Louis Pollorena (3-0) and all he did was match a season high with 5.1 innings of work where he delivered a new career-high seven strikeouts.
“I was shagging fly balls in the outfield when I found out I was going to get the start,” Pollorena said. “I just wanted to come in and help the team any way I could. This was a big win for us.”
MSU once again struggled at the plate batting .143 for the series with just 12 hits. However on Sunday the Bulldogs made up for it by being patient at the plate and talking what Ole Miss was giving them, free passes and hit by pitches.
“If a pitcher can move you off the plate then he is going to win the battle because it opens up the outside half of the plate,” said Cohen. “It has nothing to do with getting hit by the pitch. It has to do with controlling the strike zone.
“Our kids are good at it, thank goodness, because if we didn’t have that club in our bag right now, we would be able to put runs on the board.”
State plated their four runs in the first inning when Ole Miss opened in rather rough fashion with a pair of walks, a single and a hit-by-pitch by starter Tanner Bailey (1-1).
Bailey failed to record an out and gave way to Dylan Chavez who promptly got a strike and the hit back-to-back batters to give MSU a 3-0 lead. Wes Rea then capped the Bulldog scoring with an RBI sacrifice fly giving his team the early 4-0 advantage.
The four-run lead was all that State needed thanks to stellar defense and quality pitching from Pollorena and closer Caleb Reed.
Pollorena allowed no runs on just four hits while striking out seven before giving the ball to Reed to close the game by bending but not breaking.
“It wasn’t the prettiest save in the world, giving up two runs during it,” said Reed, who allowed two runs on four hits. “I made some good pitches and I made some bad pitches, they just made me pay for the bad ones. We’ll take the series win and get out of here with two out of three.”
Helping the pitching staff was Hunter Renfroe who flashed the leather in fourth inning with a leaping grab of a ball that easily cleared the center field fence.
“Off the bat, I got a good read on it,” Renfroe said. “I knew I was close to the fence when I felt the warning track and I just tried to jump. I guess I timed it pretty good and I caught it.”
Ole Miss attempted to make things interesting with a runs in the eighth and ninth innings, but Reed closed the door picking up his 20th career save.
State will be off in the midweek before traveling to Tuscaloosa, Ala. for a three-game series with the Crimson Tide. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. on Friday evening with Chris Stratton slated to take the mound.