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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Dogs advance to championship final in Starkville regional

For the second consecutive night the Mississippi State Bulldogs used two-out hits to cruise past the South Alabama Jaguars 6-2 Saturday night in Dudy Noble Stadium.
The Bulldogs now sit 2-0 in the Starkville regional and will face the winner of an elimination game between the Jags and Central Arkansas Sunday.

MSU head coach John Cohen said although the Dogs are in the driver’s seat, his team will need to remain focused to close out the regional.

“The job is not finished,” Cohen said. “The team we play tomorrow will be on a hot streak because they would have won a ball game. They’ll be feeling good about themselves so we need to play a complete ball gametomorrow night to try and win this thing.”

Junior Alex Detz continued to swing a hot stick in the regional as he collected three hits in four plate appearances and scored a run.

Behind Detz, junior second baseman Brett Pirtle had two hits, scored a run and drove in two runs on a two-out single.

Pirtle said the Dogs used a one-pitch mentality to get after the Jag pitchers.

“When going to the plate just have the mind set of squaring up one pitch and one pitch only,” he said. “Today I got behind in the count and I just wanted to not pop anything up like my other at bats. I just wanted to square something up and put it in play and luckily it worked out.”

After three innings of scoreless baseball the Jags struck first in the fourth inning with two runs to chase MSU started Luis Pollorena out of the game. Bulldog sophomore Ross Mitchell closed out the inning and kept USA out of the runs column for the remainder of the contest.

The Dogs responded in the fifth inning with four two-out runs to claim the lead. With two outs and the bases loaded, the recently struggling Hunter Renfroe rolled an infield single down the third base line and beat the throw to drive in the first MSU run of the game.

Pirtle scored two more runs with his single followed by an RBI single from Wes Rea to give MSU a 4-2 advantage.

Cohen noted Renfroe’s speed and said he does not consider him to be in a slump offensively.

“(Renfroe) ran 3.96 (second down the line). There are lead-off guys in the big leagues who don’t run a 3.96 on a full swing. He’s a really talented kid,” Cohen said of his right fielder. “I don’t see slump. I think he’s fully capable of stepping out there tomorrow with the same approach and have a great day.”

Pirtle said although Renfroe has appeared to be slumping, Renfroe has multiple tools to contribute which provide opportunity.

“He’s been struggling, but it’s baseball. You struggle,” Pirtle said. “What’s good about him is his speed. He’ll hit a grounder like that and be able to beat it out and give us a chance behind him.”

The Maroon and White plated two more two-out hits in the seventh inning on a C.T. Bradford two-RBI single to set the 6-2 final.

USA’s Matt Bell took the loss on the mound as he fell to 6-2 on the year. Bell said the Bulldogs’ timely hitting rattled part of his performance.

“I made a few pitches that could have got that last out,” Bell said. “I threw a splitter that got Renfroe to roll over but it was just too slow to get him. It’s obviously frustrating to give up four runs with two outs.”

The Jaguars fell to 43-19 on the year and head coach Mark Calvi credited MSU for making the right plays at the right time in the game.

“That was a great college baseball game tonight. Super proud of our guys the way we battle right there to the end, but just didn’t do enough tonight,” Calvi said. “That’s a great team over there. They played really well and did just a little more than we did. We’d love to play them tomorrow night so we have to go to work in the first game.”

For the Bulldogs Mitchell earned the win in relief and now stands a perfect 12-0 on the year with a 1.41 ERA. Mitchell threw 5.1 innings of scoreless baseball while striking out five and credits his defense for his performance on the mound.

“I was just relying on my defense. I probably had more strike outs than usual, but I was just trying to let them hit it early,” Mitchell said. “Pretty much every time they made early contact it happened to go to somebody. They did a good job. I just let my defense do what they continue to do.”

MSU now awaits the winner of the USA vs. UCA 2 p.m. elimination matchup. The winner of the elimination game will face the Dogs at 7 p.m. Sunday night.

Fans are encouraged to wear white for Sunday night’s promotional White Out game.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Dogs advance to championship final in Starkville regional