STARKVILLE, Miss. – All-American juniors Ross Mitchell and Jonathan Holder combined for a two-hit shutout as Seth Heck’s walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th lifted No. 18 Mississippi State to a 1-0 win against Tennessee in front of 7,321 at Dudy Noble Field Saturday night. The Bulldogs improved to 32-19 overall and 15-11 in Southeastern Conference play, while the Vols dropped to 29-19 and 11-15 in league action.
Deadlocked in a scoreless tie in the bottom of the 10th, senior outfielder C.T. Bradford celebrated Senior Day with a first-pitch leadoff double to the wall in right field. Following a sacrifice bunt by fellow senior Alex Detz, senior Brett Pirtle was intentionally walked, putting runners at first and third base with one out. On a full count, Heck sliced a chopper over the third baseman’s head to left field for the walk-off single.
Mitchell tossed his team-leading seventh quality start of the season in the no decision, tying his career high as a starter with five strikeouts in 6.1 stanzas. The southpaw extended his shutout streak to 15.1-consecutive innings. Holder finished off the game with a career-high tying seven strikeouts, improving to 5-1 on the year in 3.2 innings of work.
Tennessee starter Nick Williams tossed a career-long nine shutout innings, before reliever Kyle Serrano suffered the loss (3-3) in the final frame.
Offensively for MSU, Heck (2-for-5) extended his career-high hitting streak to 11 games, while Pirtle (2-for-4) prolonged his streak to 56-straight games of reaching base safely against SEC opponents. Freshman All-American candidate Gavin Collins also tallied multiple hits on the night (2-for-4).
As a whole, Butch Thompson’s pitching staff has recorded 44 shutout frames in its last 46 innings, including three shutouts over the last five games (all SEC contests). Having already clinched a spot in the 2014 SEC Tournament, the Bulldogs Saturday clinched a .500 conference record for the third-straight year for the first time since 1999-2001. The 15-11 start is the best under current head coach John Cohen and the best since the 2006 squad started 16-10.
The rubber game in the series takes place Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Dudy Noble Field. The game will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network and HailStateTV.com.