STARKVILLE, Miss. – Led by the dominant hitting performance of sophomore Daryl Norris, the Mississippi State Bulldogs started off the 2012 campaign with a 6-2 victory against the Washington State Cougars of the Pac-12.
Norris, who tied a career-high with three hits in four at-bats, was one of many Bulldogs to have a hot bat in tonight’s match-up, as seven of the nine MSU starters earned a hit, where five of those collected multiple.
“I was really pleased with our hitting,” MSU coach John Cohen said. “I think our ball club is a little less swing and miss, and a little more line drive ground ball this year.”
Mississippi State (1-0) won their ninth-consecutive season and home-opener, with Cohen improving to 7-0 in opening-day games at Dudy Noble Field – 3-0 as a player (1988-90) and 4-0 as a coach (2009-12).
After a solid starting pitching performance from redshirt sophomore Ben Bracewell, the Maroon and White opened up the scoring with a three-run second inning. Sophomore Taylor Stark got the ball rolling with an RBI single, scoring Norris. Sac flies from Wes Rea and Matthew Britton tacked on two more, the first scoring Trey Porter, with the latter scoring Stark.
The Cougars answered back in the fourth with two runs of their own, only to have the Bulldogs respond in the bottom half. Sophomores C.T. Bradford and Adam Frazier both drove in runs on base hits, upping State’s lead to three, 5-2.
Norris sent a runner home in the eighth to put the finishing touches on the Bulldogs’ win.
Chris Stratton (1-0) kept the Cougars at bay to close out the game, serving in 4.0 innings of
relief, only allowing one hit and striking out three. Bracewell turned in a career-high 4.1 innings of work in his first-career start on the mound, notching a career-high five strikeouts.
The Bulldogs finished with a total of 13 hits. Norris led all batters with three, while Brent Brownlee, Frazier, Porter and Stark all contributed two.
Washington State finished with only four hits in 29 total at-bats. Starter J.D. Leckenby (0-1) pitched 4.0 innings, allowing five earned runs on eight hits, taking the loss for the Cougars.
State will return to action tomorrow for game two of the three-game series against the Cougars, with game time set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday’s contest to close-out the series is set for 1:30 p.m.