For parts of this season, Mississippi State has had to scrape and scrounge for runs. The Bulldogs had no problem finding their way around the bases on Tuesday.
No. 5 MSU pounded out 16 hits, including three home runs, in a 15-1 win over Southern. A total of 11 different Bulldogs had at least one hit as State's bats did major damage and possibly built confidence and momentum ahead of this coming weekend's three-game series at Auburn.
"I was very pleased," MSU head coach Chris Lemonis said. "Wish we would have swung it a little better earlier, but we had some good at-bats. I thought our guys who came off the bench gave us some better at-bats. They were ready and jumped on some balls."
Mississippi State scored in six of the eight innings in which the team came to the plate. Rowdey Jordan led off the bottom of the first with a bunt single and eventually came around on a wild pitch, setting the tone for a night where the runs just kept coming.
No one had a more productive offensive night than Jordan. The veteran centerfielder continued to emerge from his early-season slump with a 3-for-4 night that included a home run, two RBI and three runs scored.
Brad Cumbest and Brandon Pimentel also hit homers for the Bulldogs. Cumbest, Pimentel and Tanner Leggett all joined Jordan as MSU players with two or more hits.
The Bulldog bats of course provided plenty of support for MSU's arms. Nine different State pitchers saw action in the game with all getting an inning of work apiece. Most notably perhaps, Cade Smith made his season debut and Eric Cerantola made his first appearance since losing his spot in the weekend rotation last month. Both hurled scoreless frames. The only run Southern mustered came off of Spencer Price, who struggled a bit as he allowed a hit and two walks in the sixth inning.
At the time, that Southern run cut MSU's lead to 7-1. But the Bulldogs put the game away with six runs in the home half of the sixth and two more in the seventh. And if State has its way, there'll be more offense where that all came from in the weekend ahead.
Alright, let's take a quick look at the numbers, Game MVPs, the Moment of the Game and a couple of notes
Southern at Mississippi State box score
MSU Offensive MVP: CF Rowdey Jordan
It seems official. The almost-yearly, early-season Rowdey Jordan hitting slump is over.
Jordan's 3-for-4 night on Tuesday raised his batting average all the way up to .276. That might not sound superb, but when you consider he entered the Kentucky series four games ago batting only .233, well, you get the picture.
Over the last four contests, Jordan is 8-for-15. In the last three games, he's 7-for-12. He's about as hot as you get.
"I'm in a good spot, I'm getting good pitches to hit and I'm taking advantage of it," Jordan said.
(NOTE: To hear more from Jordan, you can view his full postgame press conference with the video at the top of this page.)
MSU Pitching MVP: RP Cade Smith
In a game with nine different pitchers, it's hard to stand out above the pack. But when you make your Bulldog debut in successful fashion, well that's good enough to get the nod here.
Smith pitched a scoreless, hitless second inning on Tuesday in his first MSU action. He struck out two. The only blemish against him was a one-out hit-by-pitch. However Smith worked around that as he got a strikeout and induced a fielder's choice ground ball. Not a bad start to a State career at all.
"I thought he was good," Lemonis said of Smith. "I thought he pitched really well. I know we have a lot of depth on the mound, but Cade was probably in our top eight coming out of the fall. His arm came back and wasn’t feeling good, so we had to shut him down, rehab him, and work him back up. Maybe he gives us a spark down the road. It is really good stuff. He’s a very talented pitcher."
Moment of the Game: Rowdey breaks it open
Tuesday's game looked like it was headed towards being a blowout. Jordan cemented that.
Up 5-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Jordan stepped to the plate with two outs and a man at third. He then deposited a ball over the left-field wall to put the Bulldogs up by seven.
The game was essentially probably over anyway as Southern's chances probably weren't all that great against MSU pitching. Jordan pretty much ensured the contest was indeed on the way to being wrapped in maroon and white.
– Lemonis shook up the MSU starting lineup on Tuesday. While it featured many of the same faces, some were in different spots. Usual catcher Logan Tanner played first, while Luke Hancock saw action behind the plate. Usual first baseman Josh Hatcher played left field. Also, highly-thought-of freshman Kellum Clark was the designated hitter as he made his second start of the season. Was all this foreshadowing any permanent changes to come?
"I think it’s more just trying to shake it up a little in the midweek – keep them focused," Lemonis said. "I kind of wanted (Hatcher) to go out there and relax and play ball, maybe play a different position. He plays the outfield in all of our scrimmages. I wanted to get Kellum in. He’s had some good practices. I wanted to get (Tanner) some at bats. We try to catch (Hancock) at least one a week. So, (Tuesday) was the night for Luke to catch. (It) depends on base running threats. (Tanner) just throws so good. Luke throws good, but (Tanner) is just so good. He had to catch all those Kentucky games. We’re just trying to figure it out. It’s more about our hitters having good at-bats rather than the structure of the lineup."
– As most probably expected, Mississippi State is planning to stick with what has become its standard Southeastern Conference pitching rotation this weekend at Auburn. Lemonis confirmed on Tuesday night that Christian MacLeod, Will Bednar and Jackson Fristoe will each make starts in the upcoming series against the Tigers.