STARKVILLE Sophomore left-hander Konnor Pilkington continued to grow into the role of Friday night starter for the Mississippi State baseball team.
Pilkington struck out a career high 13 in 7.2 innings of work and the bullpen took it from there as MSU beat South Alabama 2-0 Friday night at Dudy Noble Field.
“I am so glad that Konnor is on our team,” head coach Andy Cannizaro said. “He showed again tonight that he has what it takes to be a Friday night starter in the Southeastern Conference. He was really outstanding the whole night. Trysten (Barlow) and Spencer (Price) took it from there.
“South Alabama has an outstanding offensive team. We matched that tonight with some really good pitching. I am glad to see things happening for Konnor like this.”
The Bulldogs (8-6) snapped a two-game losing streak by doing enough on offense to support the outstanding pitching. Pilkington (2-2), Barlow and Price (third save) combined on a four-hitter with 15 strikeouts.
“(South Alabama pitcher senior left-hander Thomas) Huston kept us off-balanced for eight innings,” Cannizaro said. “He was filling the zone with his change-up pitch. Fortunately, we got that run early. We really needed a win. We needed to bounce back.”
MSU scored single runs in the first and sixth innings and made that stand up for its first shutout of the season.
The Bulldogs manufactured a run in the first inning. Jake Mangum singled and Luke Alexander walked. Ryan Gridley followed with a sacrifice bunt. Mangum scored on a groundout by Brent Rooker.
In the sixth inning, Rooker was hit by a pitch. Elijah MacNamee followed with a single. This time Cody Brown had the critical sacrifice bunt. Dustin Skelton hit the ground ball producing the run.
“Right we now have to be creative on offense,” Cannizaro said. “We played the bunting game well. We were able to do enough.”
The Bulldogs finished with six hits. Rooker had multiple hits.