After a game where #13 Mississippi State (19-10, 5-3) came out flat and were held scoreless, State bounced back in a big way for the second game of the double header against Arkansas (17-9, 4-4). With an incredible complete game performance by Ross Mitchell and a four-run bottom of the sixth, the Bulldogs forced a Sunday rubber game with a 5-1 win on Saturday night.
"It goes without saying that we needed Ross to go out there and pitch well for us today and he did," Head Coach John Cohen said. "Outside of not covering first base and trying to create a new type of double play that we've never worked on, he was fantastic today."
Mitchell began the game a little rough with a hit batsman leading off the first and a one-out single on a tough hop to Pirtle bounced off of his glove and Arkansas took the 1-0 lead through the first inning. As Mitchell settled down to retire the next 12 batters, the Bulldog bats stayed cold as they had 14-straight innings during the day without a run.
Finally, in the sixth, the bats got hot. Leadoff man Jake Vickerson started things off with a base hit up the middle and was moved to second on a Alex Detz groundout. Wes Rea finally got the Bulldogs over the hump with an RBI single driving in Vickerson and tying the game at one. With two outs, Seth Heck singled to put runners on first and second when Derrick Armstrong continued his hot day with an RBI single to right.
"The pitcher was throwing really hard," Armstrong said of his at bat. "He threw a slider, fastball and fastball. I got on the second fastball and did something with it, found a hole."
Zack Randolph followed that up by expanding the lead with a two-run single giving MSU the 4-1 advantage.
After another perfect inning from Mitchell, the Bulldogs got another insurance run. Matthew Britton walked to start the inning, moved to second on a steal and to third on a sac bunt. A Detz single drove him in and the Bulldogs got their final margin score of 5-1.
Mitchell had a fantastic game on the mound with his second complete game of his first three SEC starts. The junior All-American threw 9.0 innings with four hits and one run surrendered with one of those hits and the run given up in the first.
"So far, I've been able to allow my team to get those hits and score those runs and the defense has been able to hold them to one or two each game," Mitchell said. "I just try to keep feeding off of that each week and getting better as well."
Armstrong had an incredible day at the plate. After a 3-for-4 game in game one, the senior equaled that with another 3-for-4 game driving in a run and scoring another. It was his first three-hit day of his career and he did it twice.
"I'll take it today," Armstrong said of his six hits in two games. "I've been hitting line drives right at people, I finally got some hits today. (The pitcher) threw really well I was just in that zone if I got a pitch to hit I was going to try to do something with it."
"Derrick has been great," Cohen said. "He's worked so hard on his swing and just did a fantastic job at the plate today. The kind of swings he's been putting on the balls are line drives or hard ground balls. You just can't hit fly balls in this ball park."
The Bulldogs now prepare to try and take their third-straight series to start the SEC year as they play game three against Arkansas at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Trevor Fitts will be on the mound.