Complete Team Effort Earns Bulldog Victory

Mississippi State used quality pitching, clutch hitting and alert fielding to defeat a very good Troy team, 2-1, in the second game of the 7th Annual Cadence Bank Classic held at Polk-DeMent Stadium.

MSU starting pitcher Aaron Weatherford, in his second start of the season, showed early on that he had his great stuff, striking out three in the first inning.

In the second inning, Troy, however, jumped on top with a two-out double down the right field line to knock in what turned out to be the only run scored against Weatherford. This against a team that had defeated last year's Big Team champion Michigan 13-6 earlier in the day.

"A lot of people would pitch around some guys, but I found that whatever is your best stuff, you go at them with your best," said the confident youngster. "If they are going to beat you, they are going to have to beat your best stuff."

Troy's ace Clegg Snipes, was doing about as well as Aaron until MSU put together a four-hit, two-run third inning. Mark Goforth doubled down the right field line to start the inning, then advanced to third when Jeffrey Rea's screaming line drive to the shortstop was thrown away at second base in an attempt to catch Goforth off the bag. Easley's single to left knocked in Goforth. Mitch Moreland followed with a single, then Brian LaNinfa plated Easley for the second run of the inning.

But that would be the only inning MSU's hitters recorded more than one hit in any inning.

"(Clegg Snipes) was throwing four pitches for strikes and had a lot of called strike threes on us," said MSU's Ed Easley. "He had a good 12-6 curve ball and a slider that was his main out pitch. He was a good pitcher for Troy and will win a lot of games this year."

Just not on this day due to the exceptional effectiveness of Weatherford. After giving up the two hits in the second, Aaron completely shut the Troy hitters down, recording 15 consecutive outs over the course of six innings. A seventh inning, two-out double was his only other blemish.

"It was one of those days where I had control pretty much of everything," said Weatherford. "I had everything working for me and felt like I could locate pretty good. Two of the hits they got, I missed my spot."

Weatherford finished the day by throwing seven innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and no walks. He struck out 7.

"He's got electric stuff," said MSU head coach Ron Polk of his sophomore righthander. "He's got a good enough arm and a splitter. When he gets ahead of the count, he has some weapons that can really beat you. If he throws strikes, he's going to win for us and he's throwing strikes."

Chad Crosswhite, who came in in relief of Aaron, recorded his fist save of the year, although Troy didn't go down easily the last two innings.

In the eight, the first batter, Brett Henry, singled to right field. He advanced to second on a bunt and moved over to third on a wild pitch. The next batter hit the ball to true freshman third baseman Connor Powers, who alertly threw the ball to home where he was tagged out for the second out of the inning. Brett Pierce then hit a routine ground ball to second for the third out of the inning.

"That was a key situation in the game and Connor stepped up and made a big play," said Easley.

The ninth inning saw Troy's Josh Dew single with one out. Kevin Weidlich then hit a ball that bounced off Chad's glove for an infield single, putting men on first and second. Brian Miller then reached on a fielder's choice, which resulted in base runners at first and third with two outs. But Chad ended the drama by striking out pitch-hitter Matt Tanzi for the final out of the ballgame.

"(Chad Crosswhite) needs to see that early in the season to get him ready. He's a veteran and that's his job, to come in late in the 8th and 9th inning and pitch when it's a close game," said Easley.

The Bulldogs were led at the plate by Jeffrey Rea who recorded two hits. Easley and LaNinfa knocked in the only two Bulldogs runs.

Weatherford saw this as a complete team win.

"Overall, we played well as a team," he said. "Guys made the plays, the routine and the big plays. A 2-1 game, no individual will win a game by themselves. The whole team has to do their job."

It didn't surprised Polk that Troy gave his team all they wanted. And he expects the same Saturday and Sunday.

"I kept telling people that this may be the best field that we have had at the Cadence Classic in regard to competitive ball clubs," noted Polk. "Troy is the Sunbelt champion and return a lot of players. Alabama barely got by Troy in the regional at Tuscaloosa. And Michigan is the Big Ten champion. They got nosed out at the Vanderbilt tournament last year."

Next up for Mississippi State is Michigan Saturday afternoon. Gametime is set for 4 p.m. State then faces Troy again Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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