Slumping Bulldogs Drop 4th in Last 5 Games

Samford (4-14) used a brilliantly pitched complete-game, three-hit shutout by Joe Denson and two three-run innings to defeat a slumping Mississippi State team, 6-0. The loss by the Bulldogs, now 13-6 on the season, is their 4th in the last 5 games.

Denson, who is normally Samford's starting shortstop, was starting just his second career game. After retiring the first 10 batters, Denson wound up striking out 3 batters while walking 4 to go to 1-1 on the year. Coming into the game, Denson had an ERA of 15.63 while allowing 11 runs on 14 hits in 6.1 innings. Teams were hitting .438 against him.

"This was my second start in college ever," said Denson. "I'm glad it worked out the way it did. The biggest thing I had going was I was able to locate my off-speed stuff. Getting ahead in the count with my fastball and keeping them off-balance with my curveball and changeup was the biggest thing for me."

Samford, coached by former Mississippi State athlete and assistant coach Tim Parenton, scored three runs in the third inning, then followed that up with a three-run home run by Richard Bishop in the sixth inning to put the game on ice for the Samford Bulldogs. All six runs were against MSU starting pitcher and true freshman Josh Johnson.

Johnson, in addition to the six runs, gave up six hits, two walks while striking out three in his six innings of work. It was his first loss. He was 2-0 coming into the game.

"Josh didn't pitch that badly. He gave up a breaking ball three-run home run," said Polk.

MSU relievers Jon Crosby, Brooks Dunn and Brad Corley threw one inning each, allowing a total of 1 hit and no runs while striking out 4 and walking none.

The MSU Bulldogs were led in hitting by senior infielder Steve Gendron who had his second straight two-hit night. Freshman Jeffrey Rea has MSU's other hit.

"We hit some hard hit balls," said Polk. "We hit two or three balls tonight that would have been out of (LSU's) Alex Box Stadium but they are just warning track fly balls here. We are in one of those hitting funks that happens. I've had great ball clubs that have had a string of poor hitting days. It happens. Hitting is contagious and we are not hitting contagiously now. It started against Tennessee and has carried over."

Although MSU's hitters are in an obvious team-hitting slump, having now scored just 10 runs in their last five games, Denson really didn't noticed it while pitching to the Bulldog hitters, although he did seem to think a few of MSU's hitters are slumping.

"It's hard for me to tell from the mound that they were in a slump," said Denson. "You could tell a couple of their guys have been struggling. Just from the stats before the game, that told me that. (However) they looked really well-balanced at the plate. The biggest thing for me was hitting my spots and keeping them off-balance late in the count with my off-speed stuff."

Another person who didn't seem to think MSU's hitting slump was due to lack of quality hitters was Samford's head coach.

"I really think they are going to be fine," said Parenton. "They really took some good cuts at the ball. (Denson) just located it very good. He kept the ball down on them. Any pitcher who hits his spots and throws his curveball and changeup for strikes early in the count will mess up any hitter in America."

The Samford Bulldogs recorded seven hits, led by Garrett Rice's two hits.

MSU tangles with the number one ranked LSU Tigers (19-3, 2-1 SEC) this weekend in Baton Rouge, La. The series opener is 6:30 p.m. Friday at Alex Box Stadium.

Although most would look at it as a major disadvantage to take a slumping ball club to the home of the top-ranked team in the nation, Coach Polk doesn't see it as that bad of a thing.

"I think it is kind of good that we are going on the road because of the environment changes," said Polk. "I also think it is good that we are playing a good ball club like LSU."

Samford (4-14) 003 003 000 - 6 8 1
MSU (13-6) 000 000 000 - 0 3 0
WP-Denson (1-1). LP-Johnson (2-1). 2B-Collins. T-2:03. A-1,077 (6034 paid).

Gene's Page Top Stories