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Diamond Dogs Upset #3 Hogs In Series Opener, 11-2

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State‘s Hunter Renfroe hit a pair of home runs Friday night as the Baseball Bulldogs upset third-ranked Arkansas 11-2 in a Southeastern Conference baseball game played before a season-best 4,007 at Dudy Noble Field.

The Bulldogs won the opening game of the weekend series from the Razorbacks by pounding out season highs in hits and runs scored in conference play. MSU improved to 16-7 overall and 2-2 in league play, while Arkansas fell to 20-3 and 3-1.

The Razorbacks have won nine of the previous 11 meetings including four straight in this stadium. That started to change when Renfroe hit an inside-the-park home run in the first inning. For the Bulldogs, it was their first inside-the-park home run since Brad Corley accomplished the feat against Louisiana Tech in 2004.

“I looked at (MSU third base coach Lane Burroughs) point to home plate as I’m rounding second and thought you are crazy,” Renfroe said. “Obviously he knew more about what was going on behind me in the outfield.”

In the third inning, Renfroe added a no-doubt two-run shot into the left field lounge. For the Bulldog sophomore, it was his first two career round-trippers. MSU had two players tally multi-homer games last season with the last being Jaron Shepherd against Alabama on April 30.

The early offense was more than enough for junior right-hander Chris Stratton. Stratton (5-0) allowed five hits and two runs (both earned), with nine strikeouts and two walks. In seven innings of work, Stratton threw 107 pitches.

“I am telling (MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson) that on a Friday night, that’s a solid effort,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “We would’ve taken that effort any year that I’ve been here from anybody on our pitching staff. Now it’s getting to a point where our expectations are so high.”

Stratton took advantage of two double plays and had a stretch where he retired eight straight batters.

Offensively, the Bulldogs built the early lead with two runs in each of their first four at-bats. Renfroe had the RBIs in the first and third innings. In the second inning, Demarcus Henderson had a sacrifice-fly and Adam Frazier had an RBI-single. Trey Porter drove in two runs with a single in the fourth inning.

Mitch Slauter had his first career three-hit game for the Bulldogs. Frazier had his third three-hit night and his second multi-RBI game. Frazier has now hit safely in 20 of the Bulldogs’ 23 games. Renfroe now has four RBIs for the second time this season. Porter and Renfroe each had multiple hits.

Also for MSU, C.T. Bradford started in center field, returning to the lineup after a shoulder injury had forced him out of the lineup for the last eight games.

Arkansas finished with seven hits. Jimmy Bosco and Bo Bingham each had multiple hits for the Razorbacks.

In his shortest start of the season, D.J. Baxendale (5-1) lasted three innings, allowing nine hits and eight runs (seven earned), with two strikeouts and a walk.

Jonathan Holder threw two innings of shutout relief for the Bulldogs.

The series resumes with a 2 p.m. start Saturday. The series finale is at noon Sunday and will be televised regionally by SportSouth.

Diamond Dogs Edged By LSU 4-3 In Game 2

BATON ROUGE, La. – Mississippi State’s first road trip of the baseball season served up another heart-breaker Saturday night as the 21st-ranked Bulldogs dropped a 4-3 decision to No. 10 LSU in Southeastern Conference action at Alex Box Stadium.

With the victory, LSU clinched its sixth straight series win from MSU. The Tigers have won 11 of the past 13 contests played against the Bulldogs.

“We are real pleased with the pitching part of it right now,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “Offensively, we have too many guys (offensively) trying to do too much right now. LSU has gotten situational hits each of these two games and we haven’t.”

LSU scored twice in the bottom half of the tenth inning to post a 3-2 victory in Friday’s series opener. The Tigers are now 16-3 overall and 2-0 in league play, while the Bulldogs are now 14-7 and 0-2. On its first road trip of the season, the Bulldogs have lost all four, with three of those defeats coming by a single run.

“Right now, we are trying to do too much,” Cohen said. “We have guys wrestling with the bat. It is just not happening for us right now. We have to get better. The kids are really competing their tails off.

“The SEC isn’t forgiving. It does not care if you are playing hard or playing with emotion. All of the league cares about is whether you won or lost. We have young guys and we have to get them playing at a higher level. We have the talent to do it. We just have to find a way.”

The Bulldogs had another solid pitching performance. Starting pitcher Nick Routt (1-2) was lifted with two outs in the fourth inning. Routt allowed two hits and three runs (all earned), with three strikeouts and a pair of walks.

In relief, Evan Mitchell completed the four-hitter. Mitchell allowed two hits and one run (earned), with seven strikeouts and three walks.

“Evan really gave us a lift,” Cohen said. “He competed and gave us a chance. We have pitched both of these games very well. The margin of error is very small in this league. We haven’t caught any breaks, either.”

MSU had its best scoring chance in the ninth inning. The Bulldogs loaded the bases with nobody out but managed only a single run on a sacrifice fly by Demarcus Henderson. Already with four hits in the contest, Trey Porter struck out to end the contest.

“Trey is up there in his last at-bat trying to hit the ball to the moon,” Cohen said. “As coaches, we have to work on getting him to calm down. That was a failure on my part. We had several players in the last at-bat trying to do too much. You just have to remain patient and do you part to get the barrel of the bat where it needs to be.”

LSU built a 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Bulldogs answered with an RBI-single from Porter in the third inning. Down 4-1, the Bulldogs scored again in the eighth inning on a solo home run by Porter.

The Bulldogs stranded nine base runners and hit into four double plays.

“On three of those doubles play, we had the hit-and-run on and we fouled off a pitch,” Cohen said. “It is hard to hit-and-run more than one time in at-bat. Those are some of the breaks working against us right now.”

The Bulldogs finished with 10 hits, including Porter’s first four-hit night in the Maroon and White.

Tyler Hanover had two hits for LSU. Starting pitcher Ryan Eades (4-1) worked seven innings for the win, while Nick Goody threw the ninth inning for his second save.

The series finale is at 1 p.m. Sunday.

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