Diamond Dogs Take Series From #22 Rebels With 4-2 Sunday Win

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Luis Pollorena picked up the victory on the mound, allowing no runs in 5 1/3 innings and striking out seven.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

STARKVILLE, Miss. - A four-run first inning took the suspense out of Mississippi State's 4-2 Southeastern Conference baseball win over No. 22 Ole Miss at Dudy Noble Field.

The Bulldogs will not worry about sweating the last pitch and will be very happy to take the series win instead. The home team won the conference series between in-state rivals for the first time since 2007. Fourth-year MSU head coach John Cohen has won three of four series matchups with the Rebels.

MSU improved to 27-17 overall and 10-11 in league play, while Ole Miss fell to 28-16 and 10-11. The Bulldogs enter the final three weeks of the season in a three-way tie for third in the Western Division.

"It's hard to win a baseball game with two hits," Cohen said. "You can do that when you have this type of pitching. Pollo (Luis Pollorena gave us a tremendous start today. He really set the tone and got our defense back into the dugout quickly on numerous occasions."

In his first conference start of the season, Pollorena (3-0) matched a season-high with 5.1 innings pitched and set a new career high with seven strikeouts. Against Ole Miss this season, Pollorena threw 10.2 innings, allowing seven hits and one earned run, with two walks and 12 strikeouts.

"I was shagging fly balls in the outfield when I found out I was going to get the start," Pollorena said. "I just wanted to come in and help the team any way I could. This was a big win for us."

The Bulldogs hit .143 in the series and managed only 12 base hits. MSU made up for it on the mound where Bulldog hurlers allowed 23 hits and five earned runs in 27 innings of work. The Bulldogs won 4-0 Friday, before losing 6-2 Saturday, setting up the all-important rubber game on Sunday.

MSU closed the deal to win its third straight home series and first against Ole Miss in this ballpark since 2002.

The Bulldogs chased Ole Miss starting pitcher Tanner Bailey (1-1) after just four batters in the first inning. Bailey walked two, hit one and allowed a base hit. A bases-loaded walk to Daryl Norris forced in the game's first run.

In relief, Dylan Chavez got a strikeout before hitting back-to-back batters forcing in two more runs. A sacrifice-fly by Wes Rea capped the one-hit, four-run first inning for the Bulldogs.

For the contest, Ole Miss pitching walked six and hit five.

With the healthy lead, Pollorena was on cruise control. Pollorena set the side down in order in the second inning and worked around one base runner in each of the next three at-bats.

The defense chipped in as well. Center fielder Hunter Renfroe robbed Matt Snyder of an apparent home run on a well-hit ball to the outfield in the fourth inning.

"After the ball left his bat, I closed my eyes because he crushed it," Pollorena said. "When I heard the crowd roar, I knew something good had happened."

Two walks forced Pollorena from the contest with one out in the sixth inning. Caleb Reed closed out the sixth inning and finished the contest for his eighth save. The MSU closer now has 20 saves, which is third all-time at MSU.

Ole Miss struck for an RBI-double by Snyder in the eighth inning and a leadoff home run by Zach Kirksey in the ninth inning.

After the first inning, MSU had one more hit - a single by Mitch Slauter in the fifth inning.

Chavez, Hawtin Buchanan and Brett Huber combined for eight innings of shutout relief for the Rebels.

The Bulldogs will take the midweek off due to final examinations on the MSU campus. SEC play resumes next weekend when MSU travels to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama. The Bulldogs and Tide will meet at 6:35 p.m. Friday, 2:05 p.m. Saturday and 1:05 p.m. Sunday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.



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