MSU improved to 33-10 overall and 23-2 in non-conference play. The Bulldogs have now won six of the last seven series meetings with the long-time rival Tigers. Memphis has already won six games against the Southeastern Conference this season and falls to 25-17 with the defeat.
The Bulldogs pounded out 15 hits and scored in five different at-bats. Brett Pirtle collected his first four-hit game in the Maroon and White, while Ross Mitchell (8-0) threw six shutout innings in relief to garner the victory.
“I thought we hit a lot of line drives early and got outs,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “Later in the game, those hard hits fell in. It is sometimes hard to be focused coming off a big Super Bulldog Weekend. That was not the case. The kids came ready to play and had a great night offensively.”
MSU built an early 5-0 lead on Hunter Renfroe’s conference-best 14th home run of the season – a three-run shot to left field. A five-run ninth inning blew the contest open for the Maroon and White.
Drawing the start for MSU, Evan Mitchell made his first appearance since March 23. After working around three walks in the first inning, Evan Mitchell was lifted after a leadoff walk in the second inning. Ross Mitchell allowed three hits and the Tiger’s only run, while facing 21 batters and throwing 59 pitches in six innings of work. Trevor Fitts, Chad Girodo and Ben Bracewell followed in relief.
“Ross is so effective when he gets to face a lineup one time,” Cohen said. “He really came in and settled the game. When you have a lead, you just need to throw strikes. We have a lot of confidence in Evan. He has come a long way and his bullpens have been great. Ross really came in and gave us a lift.”
Offensively, the Bulldogs grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI-single by Pirtle. The lead was pushed to 2-0 in the fourth inning on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by Demarcus Henderson. Renfroe’s home run came after a double by Adam Frazier and walk by Alex Detz in the fifth inning.
In the seventh inning, Renfroe drew a leadoff walk and scored on a triple by Pirtle. Wes Rea lined a sacrifice fly to score Pirtle.
In the ninth inning, C.T. Bradford forced in a run by drawing a bases-loaded walk. Henderson followed with an RBI-single, before reigning SEC Player of the Week Nick Ammirati hit a sacrifice fly. Trey Porter capped the scoring with a two-run pinch-hit single.
Frazier, Renfroe and Henderson had multiple hits for the Bulldogs.
Memphis finished with four hits, including two by Colton Simbeck. Starting pitcher Michael Wills (3-3) was lifted after the walk to Detz in the fifth inning.
“This is a big win and it will help us get ready for the weekend,” Cohen said. “We have quite a challenge with Vanderbilt. We will be facing one of the best pitching staffs in the country but our kids are looking forward to that challenge.”
MSU returns to conference play this weekend with a three-game series at No. 4 Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs and Commodores meet at 6:30 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday (Comcast Sports Southeast) and 1 p.m. Sunday at Hawkins Field in Nashville.