Bears Edge State 5-4 In Classic Game One

Baylor starter Kendal Volz limited Mississippi State to a single inning of scoring, and closer Craig Fritsch left the tying runner on first base to preserve a 5-4 Bear victory in the opening game of the Cadence Bank Classic. The three-game event was delayed two days by weather, with the second Sunday contest scheduled to start at around 5:20.

The 11th-ranked Bears improved to 9-1 while Mississippi State's record evened at 5-5.

Righthander Volz gave a steady performance, working seven complete innings for his third victory in as many starts. He was touched for six Bulldog base hits and issued five walks, including three in the bottom of the fourth that contributed to State's only offensive outburst. Volz was able to confine all the damage to that frame and keep Baylor within striking distance.

Fritsch picked up his first season-save with 1.2 innings of hitless work.

State starter Justin Pigott (2-1) took the loss despite an impressive effort of his own, battling through seven-full himself. The senior lefthander allowed a total of ten hits and was charged with all five earned runs. Yet Pigott also struck out seven Bears and gave away a single free pass. And the game-changing hits in Baylor's seventh weren't hard shots, but soft singles as Pigott simply tried to stretch his outing and save as much of State's injury-limited bullpen as possible for the rest of the series.

Both orders had plenty of scoring chances through three innings. Baylor left the bags loaded the first time-up on a double, single, and hit batsman. Pigott struck out Adam Hornung and grounded Dustin Dickerson to strand all, then retired six-straight. For their part the Bulldogs couldn't cash in on full bags in the second with an out after RF Andy Rice doubled, LF Ryan Collins singled—too sharply to risk sending the lead runner—and C Cody Freeman walked. SS Jet Butler rolled an ideal double-play.

The Bears were finally able to break scoring-ice in the top of the fourth. Pigott was tagged for three solid licks to begin the frame, the last a drive by DH Dickerson off the wall for a one-run double as the second runner checked up. It didn't matter as he scored on a Greg Glime grounder to shortstop that was errored on the throw anyway. A sacrifice had both runners ready to score with only one down.

Pigott steadied to strike out nine-batter Landis Ware, then got the order-topper to pound a hot hopper right to 1B Tyler Moore for the force.

Volz had also survived three innings of challenges; the fourth was another matter as leadoff Dog Moore took him deep and just beyond the leftfielder's reach for a solo homer. Perhaps shaken, Volz issued consecutive walks. Freeman's attempt to bunt both along only produced a force of Rice at third base, and Butler flew-out to leftfield.

A grounder by CF Grant Hogue should have gotten Volz out with a lead, but Bear shortstop Beamer Weems couldn't come up with the ball cleanly and all hands stayed safe. 3B Russ Sneed thought on 3-1 he'd drawn a RBI walk; Volz soon wished that was the case. Because on full-count Sneed sliced the full-count offering through the four-hole. All three runners came home on the double for a 4-2 Bulldog lead.

Baylor didn't pressure Pigott in their fifth or sixth, then Ware led off the seventh with a base hit as the pitch-count topped 100. A fielder's choice erased him, but ensuing singles by Shaver Hansen and Weems produced the third Bear run with one out. A two-out walk loaded the paths for Dickerson, who fought off a high fastball from the tiring starter for a soft single and two RBI. A fly ball to rightfield ended the inning but Baylor was back in front, 5-4.

MSU reliever John Lalor got away with a trio of cheap singles in his two frames to hold the margin down. But he couldn't change the score. State had a chance to tie in the eighth as pinch-batter Nick Hardy worked a walk from Mace Thurman. A successful Collins bunt pushed him into scoring position, and brought in Fritsch. He grounded Freeman to shortstop, then lined nine-batter Butler to left to maintain the lead.

Hogue tried to catch the Bear defense napping with a bunt, only to pop it to the third baseman. Sneed stroked it well but right to the rightfielder. Fritsch walked Nappi and Mark Goforth was put on the sack to run, which he did on a 2-1 count only to have 3B Connor Powers pop the covering swing up and out to end the game.

Hansen led the Baylor offense with three hits, while Weems, Adam Hornung, and Ware all had a pair of safeties. Six Bulldogs had a hit apiece.

Righthander Chad Crosswhite (0-1, 10.61era ) was to start game-two for State, with righty Shawn Tolleson (0-0, 8.64) on the hill for Baylor.

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