MSU tops Ole Miss in finale

Published 11:34 am Monday, April 30, 2012

FMississippi State didn’t need to hit the ball to have a good time Sunday afternoon.

The Bulldogs scored all of their runs in the first inning, totaled just two hits in the game, and beat archrival Ole Miss 4-2 in the finale of a three-game series in Starkville.

Mississippi State hit just .143 and had 12 hits total in the series, but managed to win two of the three games. Its only hits Sunday were a pair of singles by Mitch Slauter, in the first and fifth innings. Ole Miss’ pitchers walked two batters and hit three in the first inning, however, leading to the four-run outburst that sent State (27-17, 10-11 Southeastern Conference) on its way.

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“It’s hard to win a baseball game with two hits,” Mississippi State coach John Cohen said. “You can do that when you have this type of pitching. Pollo (Luis Pollorena) gave us a tremendous start today. He really set the tone and got our defense back into the dugout quickly on numerous occasions.”

Pollorena made his first SEC start of the season and set a career-high with seven strikeouts in 51⁄3 innings. Caleb Reed pitched the last 32⁄3 innings for his eighth save of the season.

Pollorena said he learned during pregame warmups that he would get the start.

“I was shagging fly balls in the outfield when I found out I was going to get the start,” Pollorena said. “I just wanted to come in and help the team any way I could. This was a big win for us.”

In contrast to Pollorena’s solid start, Ole Miss’ Tanner Bailey had a nightmarish performance. The junior right-hander didn’t retire a batter before he was pulled in the bottom of the first with the bases loaded and a run already in. Bailey walked two batters, hit one, and gave up Slauter’s first hit, and was charged with all four first-inning runs. Reliever Dylan Chavez hit two batters in the first and gave up a sacrifice fly to Wes Rea before he escaped the inning.

“It’s disappointing, and a game we really gave away in the first inning,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “We hit as many people with pitches in the first as we have hit in a month.”

Matt Snyder doubled in a run in the eighth to put Ole Miss (28-16, 10-11) on the board, and Zack Kirksey led off the ninth with a home run to cut the Rebels’ deficit to 4-2. Reed retired the last three batters in order, however, to nail down the victory.

It was Mississippi State’s first series victory against Ole Miss at Dudy Noble Field since 2002.

Ole Miss infielder Alex Yarbrough went 0-for-4, snapping his hitting streak at 22 games. Pollorena said Mississippi State’s pitching staff wanted to be the ones to end the streak.

“We actually talked about that. We said we’ll walk him and end the hit streak, but that doesn’t count as an at-bat. So we said we’ll get him out, then walk him. Then the way Caleb Reed came in, he just shut him down,” Pollorena said.