STARKVILLE, Miss. - A seven-run fourth inning proved too much to overcome as the Mississippi State baseball team dropped a 14-4 decision to No. 17 Vanderbilt in Southeastern Conference action Sunday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.
The Commodores secured a spot in the 2010 SEC Tournament by completing the weekend series sweep of the Bulldogs. VU has actually recorded three straight sweeps against the Diamond Dawgs and have won 10 straight games in the overall series.
Vanderbilt improved to 39-13 overall and 15-10 in league play, while M-State fell to 21-31 and 5-22. The Bulldogs were swept for a fourth straight weekend and have now lost 12 straight league decisions.
For the first time in the series, the Commodores scored first Sunday afternoon. After grabbing the scarce 1-0 lead, the Commodores blew things wide open with an seven-run fourth inning. Both Andrew Giobbi and Bryan Johns slapped three-run home runs into gail-force winds in that at-bat.
The contest was played under dark, threatening skies. However, only two brief light rains fell and play was never halted.
The Bulldogs crawled back into the contest with a pair of scores in the home half of the fourth inning. Ryan Duffy and Cody Freeman started that uprising with a pair of hits. Jet Butler followed with an RBI-single, while Jonathan Ogden then added an RBI-double. A flyout ended that threat with a pair of stranded Bulldogs in scoring position.
Vanderbilt stretched the lead with four runs in the top half of the fifth inning.
Brian Harris had an RBI-double and Curt Casali drove in a pair with a two-run double in that at-bat.
Each team scored twice in the eighth inning. For MSU, Jaron Shepherd closed the game's scoring with a two-run single to center field.
For the series, Vanderbilt hit .392 as a ballclub. The Commodores had 40 runs, including 13 or more in all three wins. Vanderbilt finished with 49 hits, including 23 extra-base hits.
In the series finale, the Bulldogs finished with 11 hits. Ryan Duffy had three hits, while Freeman and Ogden each added multiple hits.
The Commodores finished with 15 hits. Joe Loftus led VU with three hits, Harris, Casali, Giobbi, Connor Harrell and Johns each added multiple hits.
Jack Armstrong (7-1) worked the first seven innings to record the win. Armstrong allowed nine hits and two runs (both earned), with four strikeouts and two walks. Navery Moore and Drew Hayes each threw an inning in relief.
Luke Bole (2-2) started on the mound and took the loss. Bole was lifted after facing four batters in the seven-run fourth inning. The true freshman allowed four hits and five runs (all earned), with one strikeout and four walks. Trey Johnson and Caleb Reed worked in relief for the Bulldogs.
MSU closes the 2010 season with a four-game road swing. That trip opens with a 6:30 p.m. start Tuesday at Southern Mississippi. League plays ends with a three-game series at LSU. Start times from Baton Rouge are 7 p.m. Thursday, 7 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday.