Mississippi State

Poplarville's Houston leads MSU over Louisiana Tech to reach Super Regional


STARKVILLE-- A three-game weekend in Starkville was dominating by the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

MSU (44-16-1) swept three games in their NCAA Tournament Regional capped off by a suffocating 4-0 win over Louisiana Tech on Sunday night at Dudy Noble Field.

After a two hour rain delay, MSU shut down a hot Louisiana Tech lineup, getting a combined nine innings of shutout baseball from Poplarville's Zac Houston and Ryan Rigby. Houston threw six innings, Rigby added three from the bullpen.

Houston (6-0) gave up two hits, fanned 10 batters and walking just three. The junior has become MSU's third legitimate starter.

"I think Zac just went out there with a purpose tonight and really was just dominate," MSU coach John Cohen said. "Really, it all worked around his fastball."

MSU cashed in on some miscues by La. Tech to grab aearly 1-0 lead as Ryan Gridley scored.

MSU scored twice in the third for a 3-0 lead, as Gavin Collins and Brent Rooker each had RBI singles.

Rooker's sac-fly in the fifth pushed State's lead out to 4-0. He narrowly missed a homer.

In the seventh, Houston loaded up the bases with no one out and was replaced by Rigby.

"You load the bases, you've got no outs and the guy strikes out the first two and gets a lazy fly ball into center," Houston said of Rigby. "I can't really put it into words but, yeah, I had some emotions flying. It was awesome."

Rigby, a sophomore from Kosciusko, put three-straight batters down with two strikeouts to end the threat. He followed it with two more solid innings to earn his first save.

"We went right to Rigs out of the bullpen and Rigs was just dominate," Cohen said. "For a guy that threw 32 pitches on Friday, we thought he was going to be a one or two batter guy. He was just dominate."

MSU also capitalized in key moments at the plate. Jacob Robson finished the game with three infield singles. MSU had 10 hits, Rooker added a team-high two RBI.

Rooker was named the Starkville Regional's MVP, finishing with six RBI, two home runs and a double.

Jack Kruger, Gridley, Rooker, Humphreys, Mangum and Houston were named to the All-Regiona team .

State will host the Louisiana-Lafayette Regional winner in the Super Regionals.

"This was a big regional with three really good teams in it and we were excited to win it," Rooker said. "We talked in the locker room after the game that winning a regional was not our goal. Our goal was to win a national championship and we haven't accomplished that yet."