Freshmen deliver in State's home baseball win

MSU's Justin Foscue, left, makes a tag.
Staff Writer

There might come a day where Mississippi State’s young, freshman hitters hit a wall at the plate.

For now, though, the No. 21 Bulldogs are leaning heavily on the bats of their newcomers.

They did again on Sunday when MSU used four RBI from Tanner Allen and Rowdey Jordan to lead them to a 5-3 win. Jordan’s three-run homer in the fourth inning proved to be the difference for State in the rubber match as the two-out hit gave them the lead for good.

“I feel like we can hit anybody,” Jordan said. “When you have confidence, you’re going to succeed most of the time. We’re just trying to keep our bodies healthy and prepared for a long season.”

Offensively, State had nine hits in the game with freshmen Allen and Jordan going 2-for-4 each. Stovall also ended the game 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Things didn’t start off smoothly for Jacob Billingsley and the Bulldogs on the mound. The Wolverines got to him in the opening inning after he walked a batter and gave up a hit with one out. A single drove in a run for a 1-0 advantage to put the Bulldogs in a hole.

Billingsley settled in, however, with four-straight scoreless innings. That gave State enough time to get the bats going.

Tied at 1-1 in the fourth inning, they struck and it all came with two outs. It came from the bat of the Jordan, who hit the first home run out of the newly constructed Dudy Noble Field last Wednesday with his grand slam. This one drove in three runs as it cleared the fence in right center.

“It was good to get a lead," Jordan said. "Playing with the lead is a lot easier. “It was a good at-bat and I slowed the game down a little bit.”

The Bulldogs added another run in the inning when Jake Mangum singled and stole second and then was brought home on Hunter Stovall’s base hit for the 5-1 lead.

Utah Valley cut into the lead in the sixth inning when Denver McQuary came in to pitch. The sophomore hurler gave up back-to-back doubles and then a one-out single that closed the lead to 5-3.

Cole Marsh, Zach Neff and J.P. France threw three scoreless innings of relief with a couple of strikeouts. France earned his first save as a Bulldog.

Billingsley (2-0) had five innings of solid baseball giving up four hits, one earned run and four strikeouts with a walk. Henderson liked how the senior settled in as the game went.

“Jacob certainly wasn’t as sharp as he has been in his previous two starts, but I was proud of the way he battled,” Henderson said. “For him to have one of those 70 percent outings and do what he did for us was good.”

Having won seven of the last eight games with conference looming, the Bulldogs (10-6) are looking to keep the hot streak going in the midweek.

MSU travels to Biloxi’s MGM Park on Wednesday for a match up with Southeastern Louisiana (11-6) at 6:30 p.m. before returning home for Southeastern Conference play against Vanderbilt.

Henderson said this is not the time for his freshmen sluggers to hit that imaginary wall and they’ll guard against the team overlooking the talented Southeastern Louisiana squad.

“We better be a month away from that wall,” Henderson said. “They should still be fresh and they’ll get a shot of adrenaline Friday night (against Vanderbilt). Before that we have to play well in Biloxi on Wednesday. We won’t be talking about Friday until after Wednesday.”