"They put the ball in play and make plays," Johnson said. "It seems that's the way things have gone throughout my career. I haven't had the good breaks or lucky breaks."
As a sophomore, Johnson worked 5.1 innings against Vanderbilt and got a no decision, then pitched seven innings, gave up a career-tying 10 hits and lost to the Commodores last season. Johnson had eight strikeouts against Vanderbilt Friday, but scattered them throughout the game and could never quite get into a rhythm.
"I felt like I had good stuff," said Johnson, who saw his record fall to 1-2. "I don't feel like there's been one outing where I haven't had good stuff. Everything has to click together. Right now it's not happening."
Johnson left the game behind 5-1 and Mississippi State could never mount a comeback to get him off the hook.
"It's not really a mystery," Johnson said. "We get 10 hits and three runs with two in the eighth and ninth. We didn't play defense exceptionally well and for me, I've got to have defense behind me because I roll ground balls. I'm not a fly ball guy."
Johnson hit Alex Feinberg with a pitch to open the game and he scored on a single by Mike Baxter to get things going for the Commodores. Warner Jones reached on a error and scored as Vanderbilt took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Antoan Richardson singled and scored in the third inning to expand the lead to 3-0 before the Bulldogs got their first run when Jeffrey Rea singled and came around to score on a throwing error by the shortstop of the Commodores.
That didn't keep Vanderbilt phased long as it scored one run in the fourth and two more in the fifth with one coming on a solo home run by Jones, his second of the season.
The Commodores added one run to their total in the seventh and put the game on ice with three more in the eighth.
Mississippi State got single runs in the eighth and ninth, but it was not enough.
Rea, Brad Corley, Brad Jones and Joseph Hunter had two hits each for the Bulldogs, but could never bunch them together for run production. Corley, Hunter and Daniel Tackett had one double each.
"We hit the ball pretty well, but they were playing pretty deep on us and they caught a lot of baseballs at the track," said Hunter, who extended his hitting streak to 10 games. "We didn't play our best today, but we've got to learn from it, come out here (Saturday) and play better."
Mississippi State, which fell to 11-3 overall, hosts Vanderbilt, now 14-3, in the second game of the series Saturday at 2 p.m.