Eight Mississippi State pitchers combined for a three-hit shutout against Alcorn State Tuesday night in a 14-0 victory at Dudy Noble Field. The No. 17 Bulldogs (7-2) won their sixth straight while closing a season-opening nine-game homestand on a positive note.
"We needed to get some pitchers out there for their work," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "The game was business-like. When you have weather like you have today, you are worried. You don't have a large crowd at the ballpark. So you have to focus and I thought we really did that and treated the game like it was important."
Keegan James (2-0) threw the first inning and earned the win. Ethan Small, Noah Hughes, East Central's Konnor Pilkington, Jared Padgett, Ryan Cyr, Vance Tatum and Reid Humphreys each threw in relief. Pilkington was the only pitcher to throw two innings.
For the first time since the last four games of 2008 and the first game of 2009, MSU struck out 10 batters for a fifth straight game. Ironically, MSU has allowed three hits in each of its three shutouts after not throwing one last season.
MSU collected 17 hits and removed all doubt by scoring eight runs in the first inning. The Bulldogs have now had 17 hits in four different games this season.
Designated hitter Jack Kruger led the way with three more hits. Kruger has had three hits in six different game this season. Nathaniel Lowe, Ryan Gridley, Cody Brown and Hunter Stovall each had multiple hits.
Gridley and Kruger now each have a team-leading five multiple hit games this season.
In the first inning, Brent Rooker opened the scoring with a two-run triple. Gavin Collins and Brown followed with back-to-back RBI-doubles. Stovall had an RBI-single. Jacob Robson drove in a run with a ground ball out. Kruger lined an RBI-double to end the scoring in the inning.
The Bulldogs expanded the lead with an RBI-single by Gridley in the second inning and back-to-back run-producing doubles by Kruger and Lowe in the third inning.
In the fifth inning, Humphreys had a groundout-RBI, while Brown drew a bases-loaded walk. An inning later, Jake Mangum ended the scoring with an RBI-single.
"We are excited about going on the road for the first time this season," Cohen said. "It will be a long trip with a lot of traveling but we need to get these young guys on the road and have them experience a road trip. We will be playing three quality opponents, so really it's another big weekend to keep improving."
MSU will play three games in its West Coast road swing. The team will play UCLA at 8 p.m. Friday on the UCLA campus and Southern Cal at 4 p.m. Saturday on the USC campus. The weekend ends with a 1 p.m. start against Oklahoma Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
MSU then returns home for a 6:30 p.m. matchup Tuesday against South Alabama.