NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An inability to score runs early hurt the Mississippi State baseball team Saturday afternoon.
The 10th-ranked Bulldogs saw some golden opportunities slip away before dropping a 5-2 decision to No. 3 Vanderbilt in the middle game of a weekend Southeastern Conference series at Hawkins Field.
MSU saw its streak of three straight series victories snapped as Vanderbilt also won the series opener, 3-1 Friday night. MSU last won a series on the Vanderbilt campus in 2002. The Commodores have made amends for last season’s SEC Tournament championship game, where MSU posted a 3-0 victory in Hoover, Ala.
MSU is now 33-12 overall and 10-10 in league play. Vanderbilt is now 38-6 and 18-2.
The Bulldogs collected eight hits but stranded 10 base runners. Vanderbilt touched MSU starter Kendall Graveman for three runs in the second inning and were not headed from there.
“I feel bad for Kendall, they had five infield hits,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “We were on the road, playing on a wet carpet. I thought he made some pitches. They hit it into the ground and it made for a big inning. Kendall really battled. All you can do is pitch your game.”
MSU scored first in the first inning. Alex Detz started things with a one-out single. Wes Renfroe followed with an RBI-double. Brett Pirtle, who had three hits Friday night, added a single but a double play ball snuffed that threat.
Vanderbilt bunched two hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly to tie the game in the home half of the first inning.
A double by Vince Conde and single by Tony Kemp started the big VU second inning. An error plated one run, while a groundout scored another. An RBI-single by Zander Wiel ran the Commodores lead to 4-1.
Adam Frazier tripled to start the MSU third inning. Frazier later scored on a groundout by Hunter Renfroe.
The Bulldogs loaded the bases in the fifth inning but could not score again.
“I thought we had some really good swings,” Cohen said. “You can talk about bad luck or fortune or whatever, but we just didn’t get it done. You got to find a way to come out and salvage the final game of the series.”
Frazier and Detz each had multiple hits for MSU. For Frazier, it is a team-best 20th multi-hit game. The triple gives him six for the season which ties for second-most in a single season at MSU. Pirtle has now reached base safely in 18 straight games.
Graveman (5-4) lasted five innings, allowing 10 hits and four runs (two earned), with three strikeouts and three walks. Ben Bracewell and C.T. Bradford also pitched.
Tyler Beede (11-0) worked six innings to garner the win. Beede allowed seven hits and two runs (both earned), with seven strikeouts and two walks. Carson Fulmer finished the contest for his third save.
Kemp had four of Vanderbilt’s 11 hits. Mike Yastrzemski, Wiel and Conde each added multiple hits.
The series finale is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.