After two innings in Sunday’s rubber match, No. 4 Mississippi State looked well on its way to a series victory against No. 2 Vanderbilt in Nashville.
Nevertheless, despite taking a 4-0 lead, the Commodores scored seven unanswered runs and received 3.1 innings of shutdown baseball from their top reliever to win the finale 7-4 and clinch the series.
For the third straight game, MSU jumped on Vanderbilt’s starting pitcher early and scored in the first inning. Unlike the previous two evenings, the Commodores’ starter didn’t make it out of the frame Sunday.
After allowing an RBI double from Logan Tanner and a two-RBI single from Scotty Dubrule, Patrick Reilly only got one out before being yanked with his team staring at a 3-0 deficit. He allowed two hits and walked four batters. McElvain relieved Reilly and prevented any further damage to his pitching line by thriving in a precarious situation, getting two outs with the bases loaded to keep the deficit at three.
Tanner Allen extended the Bulldog lead to 4-0 after hitting a moonshot to straight away center field off McElvain in the second inning, but in the third, MSU (29-10, 11-7 SEC) missed out on an opportunity to break the game open by leaving the bases loaded again. McElvain picked up the win after going 5.1 innings, allowing five hits and striking out four batters.
MSU starting pitcher Jackson Fristoe cruised through the Vanderbilt lineup the first time through, but was touched up the second and third time around, allowing five runs (four earned) on four hits while walking two batters and striking out six in 4.1 innings of work. Two of the runs scored off Fristoe came in the fourth and three came in the fifth inning. Vanderbilt (31-7, 13-6) tagged MSU reliever Houston Harding for two more runs to extend the lead to 7-4.
The Commodores turned to relief ace Nick Maldonado to close out the final 3.1 innings. Maldonado, who entered Sunday’s contest with only two runs allowed this season, didn’t allow a hit, struck out four batters and only walked one. Allen had the only multi-hit for MSU, going 3-for-5 with an RBI coming on his solo home run. Each team recorded seven hits in the contest.
With no midweek contest scheduled this week, MSU is back in action next week in a three-game weekend series against Texas A&M starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Starkville