The Mississippi State baseball team got off to a hot start in Friday’s series opener at No. 2 Vanderbilt when Rowdey Jordan ripped a ground-rule double into right center field and scored two batters later.
From there, the rest of the contest went the Commodores’ way.
Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker bore down in a complete-game performance, allowing just two runs and striking out eight Bulldogs as the Commodores pulled ahead with a four-run fourth inning. Vandy (30-6, 12-4 Southeastern Conference) held on for a 6-2 win over fourth-ranked Mississippi State (28-9, 10-6) to take a 1-0 series lead in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Commodores got to MSU starter Christian MacLeod in the fourth, leading off the inning with two walks and an RBI single by catcher CJ Rodriguez. Isaiah Thomas hit a two-run single with one out, and Enrique Bradfield Jr. added an RBI hit with two away.
“I thought Christian was really good for three innings, as good as I have seen him,” Mississippi State head coach Chris Lemonis said in a news release. “He really kept them off balance, but just lost the strike zone in the fourth inning … They are a lineup you can’t throw a 2-0 fastballs to. He lost his change-up as the game went on and bounced a couple of curveballs, and that just put him behind in counts, and they took advantage of it.”
On the other side, Rocker settled in and mowed down Bulldog after Bulldog. Mississippi State never got more than one runner on base in an inning until the ninth, when Kamren James reached on a throwing error and scored on a Luke Hancock single. Rocker lowered his ERA to 1.48 on the season.
Cooper Davis added a two-run single for the Commodores in the sixth inning against Chase Patrick. The run was charged to Stone Simmons, who took over for MacLeod with two out in the fourth and completed 3.1 innings of relief.
Mississippi State will look to even the series against perhaps college baseball’s most dominant pitcher, Vanderbilt’s Jack Leiter, at 7 p.m. Saturday.