Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Rooker, Brown Homer in 5-3 Win; Price Saves Another; First Series Win Oxford Since 2011

Mississippi State’s bullpen turned in a sensational performance as the Bulldogs knocked off No. 19 Ole Miss 5-3 to clinch its weekend Southeastern Conference baseball series Friday night at Swayze Field.

MSU took a series on its arch rival’s home field for the first time since 2011. The Bulldogs will carry a six-game win streak into a six-game homestand at Dudy Noble Field. MSU is now 18-10 overall and 5-3 in league play, while Ole Miss fell to 16-11 and 3-5.

 

The Bulldogs have won five straight conference games after finishing last season with 10 straight conference wins. MSU now has back-to-back series wins against Ole Miss for the first time since the 2011 and 2012 campaigns.

 

“The bullpen was phenomenal tonight, starting from the first inning,” head coach Andy Cannizaro said. “It was a Bulldog mentality from the bullpen. We picked up some timely hits, defended it well and won the series. Pitcher after pitcher threw great tonight.

 

“In the third game, we have to have tunnel vision. Ole Miss will come out and play their best so we have to be ready to compete on a high level.”

 

MSU collected 12 hits and stranded seven base runners. The Bulldogs have 10 or more hits in four of their eight league games.

 

Brent Rooker, Cody Brown, Tanner Poole and Josh Lovelady each had two hits. Rooker hit his ninth home run of the season, while Brown hit his third.

 

Despite the big offensive numbers, the story of the game was on the pitcher’s mound.

 

Starting pitcher Peyton Plumlee was lifted after facing four batters with his only out being from a pickoff. Jacob Barton (2-0) followed and threw 3.2 innings, allowing five hits and two runs (both earned), with three strikeouts and a walk.

 

Denver McQuary followed with three innings of three-hit baseball. He allowed one run and struck out a pair. Cole Gordon struck out a pair in a perfect eighth inning, while Spencer Price worked around a one-out double for his eighth save in the ninth inning.

 

Ole Miss left the bases loaded in the first inning and did not score. The Rebels did strike first an inning later.

 

MSU tied the contest in the third inning when Lovelady singled and scored on a double by Rooker.

 

In the MSU fourth inning, Brown hit a two-run home run down the right field line. Lovelady also had an RBI-triple. The Bulldogs made it 5-2 in the fifth when Rooker hit a towering solo shot to left center.

 

Ole Miss scored its final run in the fifth inning. The Rebels managed two base runners over their final four at-bats.

 

“We are defending at a high level right now,” Cannizaro said. “It was another errorless game. We are solid on the infield and we have great speed to get to some balls in the outfield. Offensively, we have been strong throughout the season. Now, we are seeing pitchers stepping up and getting outs.”

 

Ole Miss finished with 11 hits. Tate Blackman and Nick Fortes each had three hits for the Rebels. David Parkinson (4-2) was lifted with two outs in the fifth inning and took the loss.

 

The three-game series will conclude on Saturday as MSU will go for the sweep at 1:30 p.m.


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