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Walkoff Double Lifts MSU To Series Win Over Vanderbilt

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Daryl Norris had three hits and three RBI including the game-winning double.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

STARKVILLE, Miss. - On Easter weekend at Mississippi State University, designated hitter Daryl Norris was hiding hits all over Dudy Noble Field.

Norris' two-out double in the home half of the ninth inning lifted the Bulldogs to a thrilling 8-7 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores in the final game of a three-game Southeastern Conference baseball series.

With the Sunday afternoon victory, MSU captured its first conference series of the year and also took its first series from Vanderbilt since 2005. The Bulldogs improved to 20-12 overall and 5-7 in league play, while the Commodores fell to 13-19 and 4-8.

"I was sitting on a fastball and just waiting on it," Norris said. "The fact that (Vanderbilt pitcher Kevin Ziomek) also pitched Friday night really helped me there. It made me more prepared for what he was going to throw. I am still a little slow in the field (due to injury), but at the plate, I am fine.

"We needed that win really bad. It was a team effort. We had a lot of guys picking each other up. Down four runs, we didn't lose confidence. We knew we had a lot of baseball left, it was a matter of staying there and continuing to battle. This was a very big series win."

For the contest, Norris had three hits and three RBIs. For the series, Norris had six hits in 10 at-bats, with one double and four RBIs. After being sidelined with injury the past month, Norris provided the Bulldogs a huge spark while upping his batting average to a team-best .409.

"The story for the game is we go down four and the kids keep battling," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "We stayed positive and kept believing that we were going to find a way to get this done. A lot of people helped on the mound. You can't say enough about Daryl Norris.

"He was at second base when we scored him earlier in the game. You are just locked in on that knee and you are thinking 'Can he do this'? The things these players are doing are amazing. You could not be more proud of a group of guys who are playing hurt."

Vanderbilt built a 4-0 lead with three runs in the third inning. Closer Caleb Reed drew his first start since 2010. Reed threw 56 pitches, while allowing five hits and four runs (three earned) in three innings of work.

Nick Routt worked the fourth and part of the fifth innings. Evan Mitchell finished the fifth inning and worked until one out in the ninth inning. Ross Mitchell, Taylor Stark and Luis Pollorena (1-0) combined to finish the ninth inning.

The Bulldogs rallied with three runs in the third inning. A two-run single by Wes Rea was the big blow in the inning. MSU pulled even at 5-5 on a two-run single by Norris in the fifth inning.

In the seventh inning, Hunter Renfroe placed the Bulldogs on top 7-6 with an RBI-single.

In the ninth inning, Anthony Gomez touched Stark for a game-tying RBI-single in the top half of the inning.

"There are little things, you wish you could have been a little better in the field and you wish you could have hit better in situations," Cohen said. "But the story of the game is the courage our kids displayed to win a game we really needed."

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Mitch Slauter drew a leadoff walk. After a strikeout and popout, Norris laced a 1-0 pitch to Ziomek (2-6) to right center for the game winner.

"Winning a series is big for us," Evan Mitchell said. "We know we are as good, if not better, than the teams we have played. To finally get a series win, even though it came down to the wire, is really big for this team."

The Bulldogs finished with 13 hits. Behind Norris' three hits was Adam Frazier with two hits.

Tony Kemp and Gomez each had three of Vanderbilt's 13 hits.

MSU hosts South Alabama at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Bulldogs then hit the road for more SEC play next weekend with a series at South Carolina.



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