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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Bulldog bats woke up slowly on opening weekend following CWS title

Ivy Rose Ball | The Reflector
Bulldog bats woke up slowly on opening weekend following CWS title

The Mississippi State University Bulldogs kicked off opening weekend with a three-game series versus the Long Beach State (CA) Dirtbags. The defending national champions and No. 3 ranked Bulldogs faced the No. 24 ranked Dirtbags on Dudy Noble Field in Polk-Dement Stadium on Friday for their season opener.

In the first game, returning Bulldog Landon Sims started off hot, striking out the first two batters of the season. Sims allowed the third man to reach base on a hit before striking out the rest of the side. 

The rest of the innings in game one were quick. The third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings were scoreless for both teams. Long Beach and MSU both played defensive games with the Dirtbags getting the upper hand in the top of the seventh with a home run, while the Bulldogs remained run-less. 

Long Beach had two more runs in the top of the eighth inning, putting the Dirtbags at 3-0 over the Bulldogs. In the ninth, MSU changed pitchers, swapping out Sims for junior right-hander Stone Simmons. The Bulldogs finished the ninth scoreless, dropping the season opener 3-0 after an impressive pitching performance from Sims, but he wasn’t exactly thrilled. 

“I think I pitched well,” said Sims postgame. “But at the end of the day the biggest stat of the day is if we win or lose, and we didn’t win. I think pretty much everything else doesn’t matter.”

The Bulldogs started game two with a sloppy first inning, quickly finding themselves down 1-0 by the end of the top frame. MSU answered, though, as they managed to take the lead 2-1 in the bottom side. 

In the second, Long Beach sent three more across the plate, which set the score 4-2 in their favor. Mississippi State had a stagnant inning with two being struck out and a ground out. The Bulldogs held Long Beach in the third, while adding one more run to the board with Kamren James crossing the plate after a RBI from Tanner. The score sat at 4-3.

In the fourth, the Dirtbags had four more runs, more than doubling the Bulldogs. Three pop-flys in the bottom of the inning left the end of the fourth with a score of 8-3 in the Dirtbags’ favor. The fifth, sixth and seventh innings all looked similar with no runs from either team, ending the bottom of the seventh with a score of 8-3. 

Long Beach showed no signs of slowing down for the rest of game two, adding a few more runs to set the final at 13-3. 

On Sunday, MSU came to the ballpark with nothing on their mind except avoiding a sweep, and it showed. 

Despite a slow start, the Bulldogs rallied in the second inning with three quick outs in the top half of the frame. The bats finally woke up in the bottom half of the second, giving MSU a 2-0 lead. 

The defense came to play, too, forcing another quick three outs in the top of the third. The Bulldogs tacked on another run in the bottom half, and all of a sudden had a fairly commanding lead at 3-0. 

The defense stayed hot, and the offense was right there with them. So much so that by the bottom of the fifth inning, the score was a whopping 10-0, Bulldogs’ lead after a thunderous home run shot from junior ju-co transfer Matt Corder. 

Junior right-hander Brandon Smith was brought in for mop-up duty in the sixth, and allowed a pair of earned runs, setting the score at 10-2 before MSU answered the bell yet again in the bottom half of the inning, matching the Dirtbags’ effort for a 12-2 lead. 

The top of the ninth saw the Dirtbags with a single RBI, but nothing else, ending the game 12-4 in the Bulldogs’ favor. After the game, head coach Chris Lemonis said he was glad to finally breathe a little after a rough start to opening weekend. 

“I was (able to breathe) a little bit,” Lemonis said. “Just being able to get some other guys out there too, I think was huge. Being able to just have some gap in the game to let some new guys get out there was huge.”

MSU will play Northern Kentucky this weekend, but must first handle the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff in some mid-week action on Tuesday. All games will be aired on ESPN+. 

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Bulldog bats woke up slowly on opening weekend following CWS title