Vols vex MSU for series win

Published 12:24 am Saturday, May 16, 2015

Reduced to playing for pride, the Mississippi State Bulldogs couldn’t even keep that on Friday night.

Christin Stewart hit two home runs and was 3-for-3 with five RBIs and four runs scored as Tennessee outslugged the Bulldogs 11-6.

Mississippi State (24-29, 8-21 Southeastern Conference), which was eliminated from contention for an SEC Tournament berth the night before, lost for the fifth straight game, and for the 17th time in 20 games.

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The Bulldogs will wrap up the season today at noon against Tennessee. They’ll miss the SEC Tournament for the first time since 2010.

Tennessee (23-25, 10-18) is still alive for the 12th and final spot in the tournament thanks to its back-to-back victories over MSU and Georgia’s 9-0 loss to Arkansas on Friday night.

Tennessee can take the No. 12 seed with a win today and another Georgia loss.

“I think this team has come together over the last few days and I am proud of these guys,” Tennessee coach Dave Serrano said. “They are playing for one another, and we are playing for something tomorrow. We can’t control what our opponents do, but we get an opportunity to go out, and no matter what happens with our opponents, we get a chance to go out on a four-game winning streak, which we haven’t done all year.”

Tennessee has gotten hot at exactly the right time to make a late push for the SEC Tournament. Friday’s win was its fifth in the last six games, and it has homered in all but one game during the streak.

Stewart hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning of Friday’s game, and a three-run shot in the sixth.

Andrew Lee drove in two runs with a first-inning double for the Volunteers, while A.J. Simcox and Jared Pruett scored two runs apiece.

“We have been seeing the ball well,” said Stewart, who has 15 homers this season. “You don’t just put up 11 runs out of nowhere with 10 hits. Everybody is doing their part. If we can keep swinging the bat like this, we are a very dangerous team.”

Mississippi State had 10 hits, the same as Tennessee, but couldn’t keep up with the Vols in the run column.

Brent Rooker and Ryan Gridley each had two hits and two runs scored.

The Bulldogs used seven pitchers in the game. Starter Preston Brown (5-8) allowed five runs, four earned, in only two innings and took the loss.

Tennessee reliever Kyle Serrano (5-4) allowed one hit in 3 2/3 innings to get the win.