The second Top-5 series of the season for No. 4 Mississippi State (29-10, 11-7 SEC) took place in Nashville this weekend, as the Bulldogs traveled to Nashville to battle second-ranked Vanderbilt (31-7, 13-5 SEC). The Commodores scored seven unanswered runs to take the rubber match on Sunday by a score of 7-4 to secure a home series win.
Vandy starter and future Top-5 draft pick Kumar Rocker (9-1) pitched a gem on Friday night, limiting the Bulldogs to just one earned run on three hits in a complete-game win. After surrendering a run in the top of the first, Rocker settled in and fanned eight in the 6-2 win in the series opener.
Mississippi State Baseball: No. 4 Mississippi State loses road series to No. 2 Vanderbilt.
Rowdey Jordan collected two of Mississippi State’s three hits, including a leadoff double. Luke Hancock was the only other Bulldog to get into the hit column with his RBI single in the first. State starter Christian MacLeod (3-3) surrendered four runs on four hits in just 3.2 innings of work.
On Saturday night, Jordan greeted Vanderbilt starter and one of the best pitchers in the nation in Jack Leiter (7-1) with a leadoff homer to right to set the tone early. State pushed another across to take a 2-0 lead before the Commodores had a turn at the plate.
Logan Tanner proved to be the offensive hero for the Bulldogs. He touched Leiter for a two-run homer to left field in the fifth to give State a 4-1 lead. Tanner drove in another with a seventh-inning double that kicked off a three-run frame for Mississippi State.
The Commodores responded with three of their own in the bottom half of the inning, but Landon Sims did Landon Sims’ things over the last 2.2 innings, striking out six and closing the door on Vanderbilt to even the series at a game apiece.
Bulldog starter Will Bednar (3-1) bounced back from his worst outing as a Bulldog a week ago, going 5.0 innings, allowing a single run on three hits while punching out eight. Preston Johnson was effective in relief of Bednar, striking out two in 1.1 innings.
Mississippi State once again struck first early on Sunday, scoring three runs in the top of the first to take the lead. Tanner Allen added another in the second with a solo homer to dead center, and Mississippi State was in control 4-0 through an inning and a half.
The tide began to turn in the bottom of the fourth when Carter Young led off the inning with a triple. Young scored on an RBI groundout to put Vandy on the board. CJ Rodriguez drove in another two batters later to cut the lead to just two runs.
The big blow came the following inning. Carter Young’s three-run home run ended Jackson Fristoe‘s day and put the Commodores in front, 5-4. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs struggled to get much going against Vandy reliever Chris McElvain.
Vanderbilt added two more in the bottom of the sixth to take a 7-4 lead into the final innings. Tim Corbin then turned to closer Nick Maldonado, who pitched no-hit baseball over the final 3.1 innings to secure the win.
Mississippi State certainly had its fair share of chances to win on Sunday, but costly errors and leaving runners on base proved costly in the loss. However, State proved that they are one of the top teams in the country and can definitely find themselves in Omaha in the middle of June.