Bulldogs set school record with 26-3 blowout loss to No. 4 Vanderbilt

Published 9:32 pm Friday, March 24, 2023

STARKVILLE — Mississippi State’s latest loss wasn’t historic for how bad it was. It was historic because of how common it’s become.

Parker Noland hit two grand slams and Vanderbilt hit five home runs total as it destroyed Mississippi State 26-3 in the opener of a three-game baseball series at Dudy Noble Field.

It was the 15th consecutive Southeastern Conference loss for Mississippi State (14-9, 0-4 SEC), which broke the school record set in 2010. The Bulldogs last conference victory was on April 29, 2022, when they beat Missouri in the opener of that series.

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“We had a good week of practice. We played good on Tuesday. I’ve gotta figure it out. It’s on me,” Mississippi State head coach Chris Lemonis said. “I obviously don’t have the team prepared to play. When you play that way we did tonight, it’s on the head coach. I’m in charge of the program and I’m in charge of our performance, and unfortunately our performance isn’t what it needs to be.”

This was not the worst loss of the Bulldogs’ current SEC losing streak. Tennessee beat them 27-2 last May. It was still devastating in its own right, though.

Enrique Bradfield Jr. led off the game with a home run, and R.J. Schreck hit a two-run shot two batters later to put Vanderbilt ahead 3-0 just 10 pitches into the game.

Mississippi State got a run back in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Kellum Clark, but it was only a brief pick-me-up. Five consecutive batters reached base to start the top of the third inning for Vandy, and it wound up scoring seven runs to blow the game open — and it was just getting warmed up.

The Commodores scored one run in the fourth inning and three in the fifth to make it 14-1, and still were not done. Noland hit a grand slam in the sixth that made it 21-2, and another in the seventh that brought in their last four runs.

Noland finished 5-for-6 with the two home runs and 11 RBIs. His RBI total tied the SEC record — set by Mississippi State’s Jason Nappi in 2008 and Florida’s Preston Tucker in 2009 — and set a Vanderbilt school record. He is believed to be the first Vandy player ever to hit two grand slams in one game, and the fifth SEC player to do it. Florida’s Zack Powers, in 2013, was the last.

Schreck also hit two home runs, and finished 3-for-3 with eight RBIs.

Mississippi State and Vanderbilt (17-5, 4-0) play game two of the series Saturday at 2 p.m. The finale is Sunday at 1 p.m.

“I’ve been on teams in the past that’s happened, and the next day you come out and see what you’re really made of. That’s all that matters is the next day,” said Mississippi State second baseman Armani Larry, who doubled and scored a run. “We have to take a look at ourselves in the mirror and know that we have to get after it tomorrow. We know that we’re a lot better than that.”