STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State broke open a tight game with a seven-run seventh inning to defeat Eastern Illinois 9-0 in front of 7,631 college baseball fans at Dudy Noble Field Sunday afternoon.
The 10th-ranked Bulldogs won all four games they played in the Diamond Classic presented by Polk’s Meat Products. MSU rallied past Michigan State Friday, defeated Eastern Illinois and Michigan State again Saturday, before posting its first shutout of the season in the three-day round-robin tournament finale.
With the victory, MSU (10-4) extended its win streak to six-straight games. The Bulldogs will close their season-opening 15-game home stand by hosting South Alabama at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Dudy Noble Field. The Jaguars come to town fresh off a series victory at Arkansas over the weekend.
MSU freshman right-hander Dakota Hudson (1-1) earned his first career win as a Bulldog by scattering seven hits over 5.2 innings of work. Ross Mitchell entered and faced one batter to help protect Hudson’s 1-0 lead.
“I thought we got a lot of Dakota today,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “He seems really close to making a big jump and we noticed he threw a lot of fastball to the glove side, which is a huge key for him.
“We really defended the field well with double plays and had some running plays in the outfield too. In order to scatter 10 hits in a game you have to be fundamentally sound defensively.”
From there, Ben Bracewell, Vance Tatum and Zac Houston worked an inning apiece as the Bulldog bats found overdrive.
The Bulldogs started the scoring in the fourth inning when Derrick Armstrong ripped a one-out double to left center and later scored on an RBI-single by Seth Heck. The lead was pushed to 2-0 in the sixth inning when Cody Brown doubled, Heck again singled and a run came home on an error.
In the seventh inning, Jake Vickerson started things with a leadoff single. After a strikeout and walk, Brett Pirtle connected for an RBI-single. After a ground ball out, Armstrong ripped a two-run single. A walk to Demarcus Henderson followed with Jacob Robson stealing home on that play.
Run-scoring base hits by Heck, Cody Walker (a double) and Vickerson followed as the Bulldogs batted around for the first time in the tournament.
For the contest, MSU finished with 12 hits. Vickerson had his second three-hit game for the Bulldogs, while Heck had his first. Armstrong also had two hits and drove in two runs for the first time this season.
“I felt good before this weekend but it adds to the confidence, there’s no doubt about that,” Armstrong said. “It’s really as a simple as we played good this weekend and it’s a better feeling than last weekend.
“I don’t feel any different at the plate but now I know that my role could come at any moment in a game and so the key is to be ready at all times.”
Eastern Illinois (2-10), which began Sunday’s tournament play by dropping an 18-13 decision to Michigan State, received two hits from Frankie Perrone, Caleb Howell and Adam Casson. In relief, Chase Thurston (0-1) took the loss.