Commodores complete SEC sweep of Bulldogs

vandy_joeesposito_jimmyjones_largeNASHVILLE, Tenn.–There is no place like home, and Starkville never looked so good to the Mississippi State Bulldogs as they depart Nashville victims of a sweep powered by a season-high four home runs by Vanderbilt as it cruised to an 11-3 win. The Commodores (10-10 SEC, 27-17) scored 29 runs over the weekend and totaled nine homers in the three games to move into third place in the SEC standings. MSU (6-15, 21-24) scored in the first inning when Ryan Collins had a one-out single and Cody Freeman drew a walk. Ryan Duffy followed with an RBI single for their only lead in the series The Commodores’ Curt Casali erased the deficit in a hurry with a drive over the left field wall, his eighth, in the second after the Dawgs had loaded the bases against right-hander Caleb Cotham (left) with no outs in their half, but could not push a run across. Conversely, the Dores loaded the bases in the second after Casali’s shot and put the game away with five runs sparked by a hit by Aaron Westlake and a sacrifice fly by Joe Esposito that the Bulldogs misplayed when they attempted to throw out the backside runner only to have the ball get away to allow another run to score. Brian Harris launched his sixth big fly of the season and Steven Liddle kept the rally alive with a double off the left field wall. Casali picked up his second RBI of the game with a line drive single to plate Liddle to make the score 6-1. Ryan Duffy hit his second home run of the series in the fifth inning for the Bulldogs, a solo shot to pull his squad to within 6-2. MSU again loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh, and again came up empty after Commodore reliever Sonny Gray struck out Connor Powers and induced a fly ball by Russ Sneed to end the threat. Esposito (right) and Liddle each hit two-run homers in the eighth for the Dores to pad their lead and account for the final tally. Harris finished with four hits in four plate appearances. Liddle had three hits and three RBI and Casali contributed three hits and two RBI as the top three hitters in the lineup went 10 for 14 with seven RBI and five runs against MSU pitching. “Our top three guys had great weekends,” said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. “They were hitting the ball well and hitting it hard. What needs to happen for us to continue this momentum is for the bottom half of the lineup to step it up a bit more.” Nick Christiani (4-3) picked up the win for Vanderbilt in relief of Cotham. He pitched 3.1 innings and allowed three hits and one earned run. He had one strikeout and did not walk a batter. Gray picked up his fifth save of the campaign. MSU starter Tyler Whitney (2-4) (left) took the loss. He gave up eight hits and six earned runs in just 1.2 innings of work. The Bulldogs left a total of 26 runners on base in the series, 12 in this game. Vanderbilt hits the road to play South Carolina next weekend. MSU welcomes Western Division opponent Alabama to Dudy Noble Field on Friday at 6:30.


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