By JOEL COLEMAN
There was little drama to be found at Dudy Noble Field on Tuesday night, but there was plenty of offensive excitement. Mississippi State pounded out 19 total hits including seven for extra bases as the Bulldogs cruised past Mississippi Valley State 16-1.
“This was one of those evenings where you have to ask yourself if you’re getting better or if you’re getting worse and I thought our club got better,” Mississippi State head coach John Cohen said. “We got total involvement from our club.”
Jacob Robson led the offensive charge for MSU with a 3-for-4 night that was highlighted by an inside-the-park grand slam. In the fifth inning with the bases loaded and Mississippi State already leading 5-0, Robson drove a ball off the left-centerfield wall. The ball then bounced back toward the infield and as the MVSU outfielders gave chase, Robson came all the way around the bases and slid home with relative ease.
“That’s never happened to me at least,” Robson said. “I’m sure its happened to somebody, but it’s a pretty good feeling.
“As soon as I hit it, I was just going to go hard and see what happened. I guess it took a weird bounce or something. They were playing me to the pull side and I hit it to the opposite side. When I got around second, I felt like I was going to score and it worked out.”
John Holland also had a three-hit game with three runs driven in. Elih Marrero, Brent Rooker, Reid Humphreys and Hunter Stovall all had two hits apiece.
Even when the Bulldogs weren’t getting hits, they were putting the ball in play. MSU didn’t strike out in the game, the first time Mississippi State has accomplished that feat since doing so on June 21, 2013 in the win over Oregon State that sent the Bulldogs to the College World Series Finals that year.
“That doesn’t happen a whole lot,” Cohen said. “That’s a real credit to our kids, especially with two strikes. They saw a variety of different types of breaking balls and different velocities and they just hung in there and made those guys make some plays. That’s how you score a bunch of runs is just not giving in with two strikes and making the other team make every single play on the field.”
Mississippi State’s offensive success provided more than enough support for MSU’s pitchers. Konnor Pilkington picked up his first career win after starting and hurling five shutout innings in which he gave up just two hits, struck out six and walked no one.
“(Pilkington) threw the ball in the strike zone and threw a ton of strike ones which is exactly what we needed,” Cohen said.
Ryan Cyr, Zac Houston, Paul Young and Jacob Billingsley each followed Pilkington with an inning of work each for the Bulldogs. Young allowed MVSU’s only run in the eighth inning when the Delta Devils loaded the bases and got a run-scoring single from Drew Wheeler.
It was far too little, too late for MVSU (4-14) though. MSU (15-6-1) took a 3-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI double from Humphreys and a two-run single from Rooker. The Bulldogs added another run in the second and five more in the fifth with Robson’s home run being the big blow. MSU put up four more in the sixth and three more in the eighth.
Everything came together to boost MSU’s confidence ahead of a three-game series with Southeastern Conference foe Georgia, which starts Thursday at Dudy Noble Field.
“(Tuesday) was a big deal,” Robson said. “If we stay within ourselves like we did (Tuesday) and like we did over (last) weekend for the most part, we’re going to win a lot of games.”