Norris’ walk-off double lifts Dogs over ‘Dores

Published 10:24 am Monday, April 9, 2012

For the first time in a month, Mississippi State had a winning weekend.

Daryl Norris delivered a walk-off RBI double with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, giving the Bulldogs an 8-7 victory over Vanderbilt.

It was State’s first series win since taking two out of three from Mercer in early March. The Bulldogs (20-12, 5-7 Southeastern Conference) had dropped each of their three previous SEC series. To get this one, they had to overcome a four-run deficit after three innings.

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“We needed that win really bad. It was a team effort,” said Norris, who was 3-for-4 with three RBIs. “We had a lot of guys picking each other up. Down four runs, we didn’t lose confidence. We knew we had a lot of baseball left, it was a matter of staying there and continuing to battle. This was a very big series win.”

The game-winning hit capped a big series for Norris. The sophomore designated hitter went 6-for-10 with a double and four RBIs in the three games to raise his batting average to a team-best .409.

Mississippi State’s comeback started in the fourth inning, when Hunter Renfroe was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Wes Rea delivered a two-run single to cut it to 4-3. Vanderbilt scratched another run across in the top of the fifth, then Norris came through with a two-run single up the middle to tie it at 5 in the bottom half.

The teams went back and forth from there Vanderbilt (13-19, 4-8) rallied to tie it at 7 in the top of the ninth inning. A two-out RBI single by Anthony Gomez brought in the tying run.

In the bottom of the ninth, Mitch Slauter drew a leadoff walk. Vanderbilt reliever Kevin Ziomek retired the next two batters before Norris lined a double to the gap in right center. Slauter, who was running from first base, scored the winning run without a play at the plate.

“I was sitting on a fastball and just waiting on it,” Norris said. “The fact that (Ziomek) also pitched Friday night really helped me there. It made me more prepared for what he was going to throw.”