MSU Baseball Falls To No. 2 Vanderbilt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mississippi State's offensive struggles continued Saturday afternoon as the Bulldogs were shut out for a second straight day, falling to No. 2 Vanderbilt 4-0 in a Southeastern Conference contest played at Hawkins Field.

After being held to four hits in a 10-0 series-opening loss Friday night, the Bulldogs managed only three hits as the Commodores clinched the weekend series. Vanderbilt has now won 12 straight against MSU. The Bulldogs have not won on the Vanderbilt campus since the 2002 season.

Despite the lack of offensive success, MSU head coach John Cohen saw many more positives than yesterday where the Bulldogs also made five errors in defeat.

"We played great defense and that is what is going to have to carry us this year," Cohen said. "We are not going to have the offensive type of ballclub we need to have, and we're not going to sacrifice defense and pitching to get it."

Vanderbilt left-hander Grayson Garvin (3-1) dominated the Bulldog lineup. Garvin allowed two hits and two walks, with six strikeouts in seven innings of work. Garvin faced six batters more than the minimum in his seven innings of work.

The Bulldogs stranded seven base runners in the contest and had a couple of chances. MSU advanced a runner to third base with one out in the first inning and stranded two base runners in that at-bat. MSU had runners at first and second base in the second inning with one out but failed to score then as well.

MSU starting pitcher Chris Stratton (3-1) pitched well. The sophomore right-hander scattered 11 hits and allowed four runs (all earned) in 6.2 innings of work. Stratton struck out three and walked two. Andrew Busby completed the seventh inning, while Hunter Renfroe retired all three batters he faced in the eighth inning.

The Commodores broke the scoreless tie with two runs in the home half of the second inning. Jason Esposito led off the inning with a base hit, stole second base and took third base on a passed ball. Mike Yastrzemski singled and stole second base. Both Esposito and Yastrzemski scored on a two-run single down the right field line hit by Curt Casali.

From there, both pitchers found a rhythm. Garvin retired 11 straight batters before Ryan Collins began the MSU seventh inning with a leadoff single. Collins took second base on a groundout but was stranded there.

Stratton was chased as VU struck for its final two runs in the home half of the seventh inning. Connor Harrell began the inning with a leadoff single. After a sacrifice-bunt, Tony Kemp slapped an RBI-triple. A sacrifice-fly by Anthony Gomez extended the lead to 4-0. A follow-up triple by Westlake ended Stratton's day on the mound.

For MSU, Parks finished with his ninth multi-hit game of the season. The MSU third baseman has hit safely in 15 of 20 games this season.

Vanderbilt finished with 11 hits. Kemp had three hits, while Westlake and Casali had multiple hits for the Commodores.

The series finale is at 1 p.m. Sunday. Vanderbilt is slated to start senior left-hander Taylor Hill (1-0, 3.13 ERA), while MSU has not announced a starter.

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