MSU suffered its fourth extra-inning defeat this season Saturday afternoon, falling to Vanderbilt 4-3 in a 12-inning Southeastern Conference affair Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.
The Bulldogs scored the game-tying run in the home half of the ninth inning. However, much like the 8-5, 11-inning defeat to Arkansas two weekends ago, the Bulldogs could not hold in extra frames, as the visiting Commodores plated the game-winner in the 12th inning.
Vanderbilt improved to 13-18 overall and 4-7 in league play, while MSU fell to 19-12 and 4-7.
"Offensively we were not good and that is my responsibility," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "By my count, we swung through five 3-1 pitches and did not make contact on 3-1 fastballs. We are trying to put pressure on our opponent. If it is a ball, you need to take it. If it is a strike, you have to find a way to put it in play."
A quartet of Vanderbilt pitches held MSU to five total hits. The Bulldogs did not score until plating two runs in the seventh inning. That frame started with three straight walks from Commodore pitching.
Back-to-back groundouts by Brent Brownlee and Hunter Renfroe brought the runs home. Renfroe also had the game-tying double with two outs in the ninth inning. A two-out hit batsman opened the door for the Bulldogs in that frame.
However, the Bulldogs would strand two base runners in the ninth inning and three more in the 10th inning. A nifty double play ball by VU halted the 11th inning threat. The Bulldogs went down in order in their final at-bat.
"We did everything right except at the plate," Cohen said. "We didn't bear down and do the things that you need to do to win a game in the Southeastern Conference."
Vanderbilt broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the sixth inning. A dropped fly ball in the outfield opened the door. The ball was dropped and also erred in the field as well. Mike Yastrzemski followed with an RBI-single. After a strikeout and hit batsman, Vince Conde followed with a two-run double.
"It is easy to point fingers," Cohen said. "You can look at the fly ball that C.T. (Bradford) dropped, but he also made a couple of great plays. There is diving catch and a throw back to first base where you double a runner off.
"Adam (Frazier) made some great plays. Defensively, we did some things very well. We certainly pitched it well enough to win."
Starting pitcher Kendall Graveman worked 5.2 innings, allowing four hits and three runs (all unearned), with seven strikeouts and one walk. Jonathan Holder, Luis Pollorena and Taylor Stark combined to shut the Commodores out until the 12th inning.
Gomez, Yastrzemski and Conrad Gregor had multiple hits for VU. Will Clinard (3-1) pitched the final 3.1 innings, to pick up the win.
Now thoughts turn to Sunday where MSU will try to take a series from VU for the first time since 2005.
"We haven't won a series in a while so we have to win," Renfroe said. "We have to come out with fire and execute. We really need to a win series and that will give us a big lift going into next week."
The series concludes with a 1:30 p.m. Easter Sunday rubber game at Dudy Noble Field.