Mississippi State Downs #14 Southern Miss, 5-4
In his longest stint as a Bulldog, Pollorena threw 5.2 innings of one-hit relief as MSU overcame a 4-2 deficit to snap a three-game losing streak. Pollorena only allowed two base runners – one on a single and another on a hit batsman – and at one time, retired 13 Golden Eagles in a row.
With the victory, MSU improves to 20-9 overall, while Southern Miss falls to 22-6. The Golden Eagles, who moved as high as 14th in one national ranking Tuesday morning, saw a five-game win streak snapped. The Maroon and White have won back-to-back games in the series as Tuesday’s triumph came on the heels of a last season’s 15-6 win in Hattiesburg.
“Luis is one of our best athletes,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “He came in and pumped it in the strike zone. That is exactly what we needed. We needed someone to come in and throw strikes. In the second inning, they should get one run but they wind up getting four, because we hit a guy and walked a guy.
“Luis was able to come in and fill the strike zone with strikes. He is an unbelievable competitor and the rest of the team really responds to him.”
MSU grabbed a quick 2-0 lead by scoring twice in the first inning. Ryan Collins started things with a one-out walk. Jarrod Parks then singled through the left side of the infield. Daryl Norris followed with a ground ball which resulted on an errant throw. That miscue – the first of four by Southern Miss in the contest – plated the first run. An RBI-double by C.T. Bradford plated the inning’s other run.
Southern Miss answered with four runs in the home half of the second inning. After retiring the side in order in the first inning, MSU starter Andrew Busby ran into trouble in the second inning. Back-to-back singles by Marc Bourgeois and Isaac Rodriguez, followed by a walk to Adam Doleac, loaded the bases.
Kendall Graveman followed Busby to the mound. After a groundout, Graveman hit Justin Diliberto forcing in a run. A follow-up ground ball out brought Doleac home. Back-to-back RBI-singles by Kameron Brunty and Tyler Koelling ended Graveman’s night and placed the Golden Eagles on top, 4-2.
Pollorena entered in the second inning and got the only batter he faced in that frame to snuff that threat.
“My job was to come in and throw strikes,” Pollorena said. “It was a bad inning and the guys told me to go out there and get an out so they could come in and hit. When I was in the outfield shagging fly balls during batting practice, I could tell the ball was not carrying out.
“I knew I could just throw strikes and let the defense play behind me.”
Pollorena (3-0) did just that. While facing 18 batters, Pollorena threw 64 pitches, with 46 being for strikes. The only base runners to reach were Rodriguez as a hit batsman in the third inning and Koelling with a one-out single in the eighth inning.
The Bulldogs slowly rallied with one run in the sixth inning and two more scores in the seventh inning.
In the MSU sixth inning, Bradford started things with a leadoff single. After a steal of second base and a groundout, Jaron Shepherd drew a walk. A double steal moved both runners into scoring position. The only sixth-inning score came on a sacrifice-fly by Adam Frazier.
An inning later, the Maroon and White grabbed the lead. Ryan Collins drew a leadoff walk and Parks followed with his second hit. Trey Johnson reached as a hit batsman to load the bases. Chase Horn became the third USM pitcher of the seventh inning.
A bases-loaded walk to Cody Freeman forced home the game-tying run. An RBI-groundout by Bradford gave the Bulldogs the lead for good.
“Honestly, we aren’t doing a good job of getting hits with runners in scoring position,” Cohen said. “Every other aspect of our game has improved greatly this season. However, we have to find ways to score more runs. We are letting too many opportunities get away.
“We have pitched it well enough to win more games. Now, we have to work on the timely hitting and take better advantage of our opportunities.”
After the one-out single in the eighth inning, Caleb Reed closed the deal on the mound for the Bulldogs. A strikeout and caught stealing ended the eighth inning. Reed got the final three batters in a row after a leadoff single by Marc Bourgeois in the ninth inning, to close out his fourth save.
MSU finished with eight hits. Bradford had three hits, while Parks had two hits. Parks, a senior third baseman, has now hit safely in 23 of 29 games this season.
Southern Miss was held to six hits – their lowest hit total of the season. Koelling and Bourgeois each had multiple hits. Starting pitcher Boomer Scarborough worked six innings, allowing six hits and three runs (one earned). Josh Rogers (1-1) faced two batters in the seventh inning, did not record an out, and took the loss.
MSU returns to Dudy Noble Field for a Southeastern Conference series with fourth-ranked Florida this weekend. The Bulldogs and Gators take part in Super Bulldog Weekend with game times of 6:30 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday and noon Sunday.