“Tonight was a game of psychology,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “If you can’t score from third when a ground ball is hit to the right side, if you can’t advance runners when they are in scoring position and if you walk people, you are going to have a hard time winning.
“In all of the winnable moments of this game, we failed miserably.”
In the MSU first inning, Gavin Collins drew a walk and Lucas Reynolds hit a double. From there, the Bulldogs only managed one run on a ground ball out by Wes Rea.
MSU received five walks over the first three innings but only scored on one of them.
Meanwhile, Tennessee overcame the slow start by scoring single runs in the second and third innings on home runs by Andrew Lee and Nick Senzel.
The Volunteers then chased Bulldog starter Lucas Laster with three runs in the fourth inning. The big blows in that frame were an RBI-single by Jordan Rodgers and two-run single by Senzel.
MSU closed the scoring in the eighth inning when Jake Vickerson doubled and later scored on a wild pitch.
For the contest, MSU finished with four hits – a hit apiece by Collins, Reynolds, Vickerson and Matthew Britton.
Tennessee finished with nine hits. Rogers, Senzel and Christin Stewart had two hits apiece for the Volunteers.
Laster (4-4) lasted 3.1 innings, with six hits and four runs (three earned) allowed. Laster struck out two and walked none. Ross Mitchell allowed three hits and one run (unearned) in 4.2 innings of relief work.
Andy Cox (3-3) pitched seven innings to earn the win. Cox allowed three hits and one run (earned), with six walks and six strikeouts. Andrew Lee picked up his ninth save.
The series continues at 5 p.m. CT Friday. That contest will be available nationally on SEC Network +.