STARKVILLE — Mississippi State emptied out the bullpen, scored its first five runs in an unorthodox manner and eventually handled Southern in a Tuesday midweek contest at Dudy Noble Field, winning 15-1.
Nine different MSU pitchers contributed to the win, with the staff tallying 17 combined strikeouts and stranding nine runners.
True freshman Mikey Tepper struck out the side in the third inning, while Eric Cerantola accomplished the feat in the eighth.
“I thought he was good,” MSU coach Chris Lemonis said of Cerantola. “The stuff was good. He was throwing strikes at 95-98 (mph). We’ll continue to work him in the pen and get him in some closer games.”
Cade Smith, KC Hunt, Dylan Carmouche, Davis Rokose and Chase Patrick each tallied two strikeouts in an inning of work.
In what could be put in the “you don’t see every day” category, neither team’s pitching staff recorded a 1-2-3 inning.
“I was very pleased (overall),” Lemonis said. “We could have swung it a little better earlier, but we had some good at bats and some guys that came off the bench gave us better at bats. They were ready to jump on some balls.”
The offense took a bit to get going, and was practically gifted its first five runs after a wild pitch, a passed ball, an RBI groundout and a dropped fly ball that hit Southern (10-15) center fielder Jayden Armstrong right in the glove over the first five innings.
MSU’s Rowdey Jordan extended his hitting streak to seven games, going 3 for 3 with a two-run homer to the Left Field Lounge in the fifth inning that gave the Bulldogs (21-7) a 7-0 lead.
“Right now I’m in a good spot and getting good pitches to hit,” Jordan said. “That’s what’s really contributing to that.”
“I can’t really put my finger on what’s causing me to come out the gate slow, but hopefully I’m past that now,” Jordan said.
The Bulldogs were active on the basepaths, stealing seven in the contest, most attempts not even warranting a throw from Southern catcher Brandon Green. Josh Hatcher snapped a 0-for-13 streak as well, recording a double in the third inning.
MSU put up a crooked number in the sixth inning, plating six runs and breaking the game open to take a 13-1 lead. Brad Cumbest and Brandon Pimentel hit their first home runs of the year back to back in the seventh, both of them solo shots. The Bulldogs scattered 15 hits and didn’t record an error, while Southern had three miscues.
MSU is back in action in a road SEC series at Auburn beginning Friday.
“We have some momentum going in,” Jordan said. “The biggest thing is to keep rolling with it.”