Mississippi State tops Vanderbilt, 5-3

The Vanderbilt Commodores (14-4, 1-1) fell to Mississippi State (12-3, 1-1) in a 5-3 loss, tying the series in Starkville.

The Bulldogs put the first runs on the board in the bottom of the first inning, benefiting from VU starting pitcher Jeff Sues' rocky start. With the bases loaded Sues threw a wild pitch, forcing the second run of the night for the Bulldogs.

"We had a tough first inning. Jeff came out and didn't pitch very well, but he was able to rebound and settle down," VU head coach Tim Corbin said.

Sues found his groove in the second inning and held the Bulldogs at three runs through the next three innings.

"Jeff has a lot of energy and sometimes he just has too much and you have to calm him down. He's been here for four years and he knows what to do when he's up there," VU catcher Brian Hernandez said.

The Commodores didn't strike offensively until the sixth inning. Tony Mansolino sent Warner Jones home and Brian Hernandez crossed the plate on a hit by Dominic De La Osa to inch VU within one point (3-2).

The Bulldogs threatened at the bottom of the sixth inning but Hernandez narrowly beat Hunter to home plate, preventing the first offensive attack.

"Warner got the ball and he threw it in. I saw out of the corner of my eye that he was running, not sliding so he didn't know the ball was coming," Hernandez said. "As soon as he saw it he tried to slide but he was a little late."

The close call prompted Corbin to bring in relief pitcher Michael Wagner who pitched the final 2.2 innings, surrendering one run in 38 pitches.

After stealing second base, Antoan Richardson put the final run on the board for the Commodores in the seventh inning, going home on a single by Mike Baxter.

The Commodores' final chance the to score in the ninth inning looked promising when Jones hit a double and Mike Baxter stepped up to bat. But with two outs on the board Baxter struck out swinging to end the game 5-3.

Overall, the lack of offensive effort gave the Bulldogs an edge in Saturday's contest.

"Offensively we just should have done a better job," Hernandez said.

MSU lead-off pitcher Todd Doolittle threw a season high 6.2 innings, giving up six hits in 116 pitches. Right fielder Brad Corley led the Bulldogs with one hit and two runs batted in.

Matt Buschmann will lead off the pitching line-up for Sunday's tie breaker at 1:30 central time.

Brian Hernandez fakes out runner in the sixth inning. (VM/ Katy Hamlett)

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