By JOEL COLEMAN
One night after Mississippi State came out on the losing end of a slugfest against Eastern Kentucky at Dudy Noble Field, pitching ruled the evening on Wednesday against Oral Roberts. Yet again though, it was Bulldogs coming up short as the Golden Eagles topped MSU 3-1. The Oral Roberts pitching staff combined to record 12 strikeouts against a Mississippi State team that totaled just six hits, none of which went for extra bases.
“As good as we were offensively (Tuesday night) I thought we were that poor (on Wednesday),” Mississippi State head coach John Cohen said. “(Oral Roberts) threw a lot of breaking balls and a lot of them were the really buried-type breaking balls and we swung at a lot of them instead of making them throw it in the strike zone.”
Oral Roberts (8-8) got five solid innings of work from its sophomore starting pitcher, right-hander Cale Tims, who took the win after going five innings and allowing just one run on four hits and a walk. Tims struck out six.
Nathan Garza, Grant Glaze and Brady Womacks put together four innings of scoreless relief work for the Golden Eagles with Womacks capturing the save as he struck out the side in the ninth.
Mississippi State (12-5-1) used seven different hurlers. Jared Padgett took the loss, though he threw to just one batter. Padgett entered in the top of the sixth with the game tied 1-1 and immediately walked Rolando Martinez. Paul Young then relieved Padgett and two batters later, surrendered a pinch-hit, run-scoring double to Sam Grellner that proved to be the difference in the game.
Keegan James began the contest on the mound for the Bulldogs and got things off to a perfect start as he retired the side in order in the first. In the second inning, Oral Roberts got to James and took a 1-0 lead when Noah Cummings hit a home run over the left-field wall.
Mississippi State evened things up in the third inning. With two outs and runners at first and second, Jack Kruger singled through the right side to bring home Luke Alexander.
The game remained tied until Grellner’s go-ahead double. Oral Roberts added an insurance run in the eighth when Brent Williams picked up a two-out RBI single against Ryan Rigby.
Only 24 hours after scoring 12 runs and collecting 15 total hits in Tuesday’s loss, the MSU offense was largely silent on Wednesday. Kruger was the lone Bulldog with multiple hits as he collected two of MSU’s six.
Mississippi State batters only walked one time.
“I think what happened was we just swung at too many breaking balls and off-speed pitches in the dirt,” MSU senior centerfielder Jacob Robson said. “I fell victim to that myself. I think if we’d have minimized swinging at balls out of the strike zone, we’d have been in much better shape. Credit to (Oral Roberts) though. They knew how to beat us. I guess they saw we’d been hitting fastballs all season so they changed things up and it worked out for them.”
Mississippi State now takes a two-game skid into Nashville, Tennessee this weekend as Southeastern Conference play begins with a three-game series at Vanderbilt. Robson believes the Bulldog bats will shake off Wednesday’s struggles and come back to life against the Commodores.
“We’re going to bounce back and sharpen up offensively and be disciplined this weekend,” Robson said.