Bulldogs win critical tuneup

Published 11:40 am Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mississippi State’s magnificent May rolled on through the last challenge on its non-conference schedule. Now, the Bulldogs just need to keep it up for at least another weekend.

Jarrod Parks and Nick Vickerson homered, and freshman Evan Mitchell struck out a season-high 11 batters in 4 1/3 innings of relief as Mississippi State beat Memphis 8-3 on Tuesday night.

It was MSU’s ninth win in 10 games in May, a red-hot streak it’ll take into this weekend’s Southeastern Conference series against LSU. Mississippi State (33-19) is one of four teams tied for first place in the SEC West and can finish anywhere from fourth to 10th — which would leave it out of the league tournament — depending on how it does.

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“We played solid defense tonight. We would have liked to put some more runs on the board early. However, we kept battling and eventually came up with some timely hits,“ MSU coach John Cohen said. “This was a real big road win for us.”

Mitchell did a good job helping the Bulldogs’ bullpen stay fresh. He replaced starter Kendall Graveman in the fifth inning with two runners on base and the Dogs clinging to a 4-3 lead. Mitchell struck out Eli Hynes to end the threat, then allowed only four hits and a walk the rest of the way. He didn’t allow a run and earned the win to improve to 5-1.

“I just wanted to come in and throw strikes,” Mitchell said. “Coming in with runners on base, I just wanted to get that out. After getting that first out, it was a matter of throwing as many strikes as I could. The game went my way with the strikeouts.”

Wes Thigpen added an RBI single in the seventh inning, and Ryan Collins had one in the ninth to give MSU an 8-3 lead.

Thigpen finished the game 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Five Memphis pitchers combined to surrender 11 walks, including four to Parks and three to Joanthan Ogden.