STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State continued its weekend of brilliant pitching but timely hitting did not follow suit.
The 17th-ranked Bulldogs dropped the final game of a three game Southeastern Conference baseball series with third-ranked Vanderbilt, falling to the Commodores 5-1 Sunday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.
MSU still took its second straight conference series to open league play. The Bulldogs close the weekend at 17-9 overall and 4-2 in league play, while the Commodores are 20-5 and 3-3.
“We really pitched it well,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “I am not sure Vanderbilt got a ball to the outfield. We certainly defend it as well as you would have liked. And we have been a very good defensive team all year. However, we certainly pitched it well enough to win for a third straight day.”
Trevor Fitts (2-1) was the tough-luck loser, as he allowed only one run on five hits in 6.1 innings of work. Jacob Lindgren, Myles Gentry and Ben Bracewell followed. That quartet allowed 10 hits but only two earned runs.
Fitts’ quality start made it three straight for Bulldog pitching staff for the first time since MSU accomplished that feat in consecutive games in the 2011 Atlanta Regional.
Vanderbilt starter Tyler Ferguson (4-0) was equally as impressive as he threw six innings of shutout baseball. Ferguson allowed two hits and five base runners before being lifted after a leadoff walk in the seventh inning.
Vanderbilt finally broke the game’s scoring ice by plating a run in the top half of the seventh inning on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Rhett Wiseman.
The lead grew to 3-0 with two runs in the eighth inning, thanks in part to a pair of hits, an infield error and a wild pitch.
MSU scored in the home half of the eighth inning as Matthew Britton drew a walk and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Jake Vickerson.
Vanderbilt put the contest away with two runs in the ninth inning.
“Based on our charts, we had 15 hard-ball outs,” Cohen said. “That is how the game of baseball sometimes works. The weak ground ball out can sometimes be the better thing. We take a lot of positives away from the weekend because we played really well against a Top Five team. We certainly had our chances in this game as well.”
MSU finished with three hits, including a multi-hit game by Gavin Collins.
Bryan Reynolds had three of Vanderbilt’s 10 hits. Ro Coleman and Xavier Turner each added two hits. Carson Fulmer pitched the final three innings for his seventh save.
MSU hosts Southeast Missouri State at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.