NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A frustrating weekend saw Mississippi State shut out of the victory column in Southeastern Conference baseball action.
No. 10 MSU dropped all three games of its weekend conference series against third-ranked Vanderbilt. The Commodores rolled to an 8-3 victory in the final game of the series Sunday afternoon at Hawkins Field.
Vanderbilt scored five runs in the first inning and was rarely threatened in the series finale. The Commodores won their fourth straight series from the Bulldogs in the Music City. Vanderbilt is now 39-6 and 19-2 in league play, while MSU is now 33-13 and 10-11.
The Bulldogs had won three straight conference series and were swept for the first time this season.
"We didn't locate pitches down in the strike zone early and the game got away from us," MSU head coach John Cohen said."Vanderbilt hit some balls hard. We got to throw at the bottom of the strike zone. That is how we have won 33 games this year. We got away from our identity today. It doesn't matter how hard you throw, if you don't locate.
"As coaches, it is our job to get the players back when we run away from our identity like that. We just didn't do the things that we need to do and that we can do."
The Commodores chased MSU starter Jacob Lindgren in the first inning. Lindgren (4-2) lasted just two-thirds of an inning, allowing three hits and five runs (all earned), with one strikeout. Vanderbilt touched Ross Mitchell for two more runs in the second inning and carried that 7-0 lead into the sixth inning.
The Bulldogs broke up the shutout with an RBI-single by Brett Pirtle in the sixth inning. MSU had a chance at a bigger inning but a line drive double play ball snuffed that threat. The Bulldogs scored again an inning later when Pirtle forced in a run with bases-loaded hit by pitch. However, MSU stranded three runners in this at-bat.
"Credit to Vanderbilt, because they played really well all weekend," Cohen said. "We just didn't do the things that we have been doing, such as playing the great defense. I still feel like this club has its best baseball ahead. This is still a team that can get on a run.
"I am a big believer of you making your own breaks in this game. Still, the middle of our order hit the ball hard all weekend and didn't have a lot to show for it."
The Bulldogs finished with eight hits, including a multi-hit game by Pirtle - his third in the last four games.
Vanderbilt's T.J. Pecoraro (2-1) worked five innings and earned the win. Pecoraro allowed four hits and one run (earned), with two strikeouts and three walks. Conrad Gregor had three hits for Vanderbilt, including his second home run. Tony Kemp also had two hits.
The Commodores played errorless ball throughout the entire series.
MSU will not play in the midweek due to final exams on campus. SEC play resumes next weekend when Alabama comes calling. The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide meet at 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Dudy Noble Field.