Holder Completes Game-One Bulldog Win 5-1

Mississippi State and Texas A&M returned to the field Friday to finish what had begun Thursday. All that changed after a 20-hour suspension was the margin of victory as the Bulldogs took a 5-1 final in game-one of the series.

The Bulldogs (28-15, 11-8) earned a sixth-consecutive victory, fourth in SEC play, while Texas A&M is 25-18, 8-11 going into the rematch. Game-two was to begin at 6:40, only ten minutes behind the original schedule.

When oncoming weather resulted in suspension at 8:36 Thursday the host Bulldogs were leading 4-1 and preparing to pitch the top of the seventh. Stopping play meant starting pitcher Trevor Fitts could not come back to finish the affair. Fitts (3-2) was still on the record to get a winning decision though, after allowing one run in six complete innings with five hits, no walks and six strikeouts.

But things didn't go quite the way Mississippi State hoped when play resumed. LHP Jacob Lindgren was uncharacteristically off his game, greeted by a base hit from a substitute batter. Lindgren walked another Aggie on and both were bunted into scoring positions for the top of the order.

When Lindgren walked Blake Allemand though it meant the tying runners were on bases with one out, and the State staff couldn't wait. RHP Jonathan Holder had begun warming after just two batters and was ready for the mess and the moment. Logan Taylor struck out swinging, and on 1-2 count Cole Lankford drilled a liner…right into 1B Wes Rea's glove to strand everyone and preserve the margin.

Holder threw an in-order eighth with two strikeouts, then returned with more cushion after State followed A&M's lead by changing a batter for the different pitching matchup. It worked out far better for the Bulldogs as new LF Cody Brown came after Jason Jester's first pitch and sailed it over right-centerfield for his first college home run. Two more Dogs reached base without scoring but the four-run difference was more than enough.

Though, with two outs the Aggies were able to put a pair on as an errored grounder and single from Allemand. Holder kept it from getting any more interesting with a strikeout of Logan Taylor to earn his fifth save of this season.

Jester threw the 2.0 Friday turns with four hits, a walk, one strikeout and the longball.

While the weather did interrupt everything and force some second-day shuffling, it might have been better for the Bulldog offense in the longer run. Because after jumping on Texas A&M starter Tyler Stubblefield for four fast runs, they had to deal with Matt Kent for the next 5.0 official innings. In only his second SEC appearance the lefthander looked like an ace, allowing just two hits with no runs or walks and striking out five Dogs.

The first inning lasted well over a half-hour as both teams loaded the bases. Only Mississippi State scored though, producing three runs in support of Fitts.

Stubblefield did not last through two, absorbing all four runs on four hits and three walks. He was replaced by Matt Kent with nobody out and two on in the second inning, and the lefthander dominated for all of his 5.0 official innings stint with a couple of base hits, no walks and four strikeouts.

Fitts was challenged immediately with a three-hit Aggie first frame around a strikeout. He was able to fan one batter, then RF Demarcus Henderson saved him with a long run and better catch to rob Troy Stein of a bases-clearing double. The Bulldogs only got two base hits in their first inning but made them work for three runs. SS Seth Heck led off with a single and DH Alex Detz worked a walk. Hottest hitter 2B Brett Pirtle sacrificed successfully and C Gavin Collins made it pay off with a two-run single to center.

Stubblefield's struggles continued with consecutive walks to stuff all sacks. Nobody had to hit for the third score as a 1-0 pitch to Henderson bounced away from the mitt, plating Collins. An even bigger inning was possible except for a curious squeeze play call with a pair in scoring positions and still one out. Henderson put the ball down but right to the pitcher for an easy out of Bradford at the plate, and a strikeout got Stubblefield back to the dugout.

He soon enough returned to stay after facing just a pair in the second inning. 3B Matt Britton singled through shortstop, bringing Heck back for another look. He ripped his first pitch down the left field line for a double that scored Britton all the way from first. Lefthander Kent took over for three quick outs in that inning, and went on to out 15 of the 17 Dogs he faced.

Fitts sat eight-straight into the third before a double down the left-line from Lankford. A fly ball to center left him stranded, and the fourth was in-order. A fielding error at first base began a more troublesome fifth inning though. That runner was erased on a fielder's choice but it left Jace Statum on base. He stole second and took third base on a grounder. That was close enough to score as Fitts bounced a pitch Collins couldn't block.

Heck ended the inning with a running stop in the hole before the overnight stoppage.

Stubblefield (3-2) took the loss on four runs, four hits and three walks with a strikeout. The first four Aggies in the order produced six of the team's seven base hits, two each by Allemand and Lankford. The Bulldogs finished with ten safeties, three from Heck at the top of the order and two from Rea near the other end. Pirtle kept his hitting and SEC-teams reached streaks (now 12 and 49) alive with a seventh inning single.

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