Baseball Bulldogs Complete Season-Opening Sweep

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STARKVILLE, Miss. - A Ryan Duffy grand slam highlighted a seven-run fourth inning as Mississippi State blew past Rhode Island 12-6 in a college baseball game played Sunday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.

The Bulldogs completed a season-opening sweep of the Rams by rallying from an early 3-0 deficit. For MSU, it was its first three-game series sweep since taking all the games from Auburn in May of 2007. The Bulldogs also move to 3-0 for the first time since the 2007 squad won its first five games.

"You just want to survive in the beginning of the season," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "Winning like this proves our ability to compete. I like our will and our want to win."

The Bulldogs continued their up-and-down defensive play. After playing errorless ball in Saturday's 9-0 win, MSU made three miscues Sunday. This came after Friday's five errors in the 9-8 victory.

Offensively, the Bulldogs collected 11 hits, giving them 35 total for the opening weekend.

"Right now, I give us a C+ plus on offense," Cohen said. "We just aren't in sync right now. We are taking good swings on the ball but the feeling for the strike zone is not there."

A pair of defensive miscues put the Bulldogs in Sunday's early hole. URI scored three times in its opening at-bat, springing to a 3-0 lead.

The Bulldogs tied things in the second inning on  two-run double by Nick Vickerson. An inning later, the Bulldogs cashed in on a failed pickoff attempt, leading to a sacrifice-fly by Connor Powers.

MSU tallied in a fourth straight inning by pushing seven scores home in the fourth inning. That inning included the slam for Duffy and Jonathan Ogden's first collegiate home run - a two-run shot to left field three batters later.

The early offensive explosion set a Bulldog quartet of pitchers up to bring the victory home.

Starting pitcher Tyler Whitney was chased during a two-run fifth inning. Whitney allowed six hits and five runs (four earned), with two walks and four strikeouts.

JuCo transfer right-hander Corey Collins (1-0) threw three innings of relief to garner his first win in the Maroon and White. Collins threw three innings of one-hit, shutout baseball, including working the Bulldogs out of their tight spot in the fifth inning. Ben Bracewell and Devin Jones threw an inning apiece to close out the win.

Ogden paced MSU's offensive attack with three hits. Duffy, Sneed and Vickerson each had multiple hits.

URI received nine hits. Oliver Palmer and Tom Coulombe each had multiple hits for the Rams.

Starting pitcher Gardner Leaver (0-1) was chased during the big fourth inning and suffered the loss.

MSU resumes its season-opening 13-game homestand Tuesday when UAB comes to town for a 4 p.m. first pitch. Freshman left-hander Luke Bole is scheduled to make the start for the Bulldogs.

Ryan Duffy
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