Mississippi State freshman right-hander Denver McQuary set the tone with five innings of three-hit baseball as the seventh-ranked Bulldogs knocked off No. 15 Texas A&M 5-1 in Southeastern Conference baseball action Friday night at Blue Bell Park.
McQuary (2-1) and Cole Gordon (first save) combined on a five-hitter as the Bulldogs evened the three-game weekend series with the Aggies at a game apiece.
MSU pitching struck out nine, walked one and allowed seven total base runners. Gordon breezed through the final four innings and was assisted by a nifty double play turned by Rooker in the ninth inning.
MSU improved to 31-17 overall and 15-8 in league play, while Texas A&M fell to 34-14 and 14-9. The Bulldogs are percentage points behind Auburn for the Western Division lead. MSU will try to win its sixth conference series this season when the teams play Saturday.
“This was a gigantic win for us,” head coach Andy Cannizaro said. “It may have been our best win of the year. We had some timely hitting and the pitching was outstanding. Things started early for us. We had two two-strike hits that were critical in the first inning.
“On the mound, Denver was outstanding. He is the type of athlete I love sending out to the mound. He had good velocity and good control. Cole was great as well. He allowed us to save our bullpen. We go into a third game with so many guys ready to go.”
MSU got all the offense it needed by scoring twice in the first inning. With one out, Brent Rooker doubled down the right field line. Ryan Gridley reached as a hit batsman. Elijah MacNamee followed with an RBI-single. Hunter Vansau ran the lead to 2-0 with another RBI-single.
In the second inning, Rooker’s 25th double of the season scored Jake Mangum, who reached on a two-out error.
Texas A&M pulled within 3-1 with a single score in the fifth inning.
In the MSU seventh inning, Biloxi’s Cody Brown singled, took second on a passed ball and third on a wild pitch. An RBI-single by Vansau plated the run.
In the ninth inning, the Bulldogs scored the final run when three walks loaded the bases and Luke Alexander delivered with a run-producing hit.
For the contest, MSU finished with 11 hits but stranded 14 base runners. Vansau and Alexander each had three hits. Rooker had two hits.