Miss. State shuts out Southern Miss
Bulldogs defeat Golden Eagles for third consecutive time
ATLANTA -- Mississippi State marked its return to the postseason in style. Luis Pollorena and Caleb Reed combined for an eight-hit shutout as the Bulldogs blanked in-state rival Southern Mississippi 3-0 in the first-round of the Atlanta regional.
Playing in a regional for the first time since the 2007 Bulldogs made a magical run to the College World Series, Mississippi State made the most of Friday's opportunity by beating an in-state rival in the postseason for the first time in school history. With the victory - the Bulldogs' third consecutive against the Golden Eagles - Mississippi State improved to 35-23, while Southern Miss fell to 39-18.
Pollorena (7-5) worked six innings, allowed five hits, with three walks and three strikeouts. Reed completed the contest with three innings of three-hit ball to earn his 12th save. Reed struck out four and walked one while facing 13 batters.
"Luis and Caleb both pitched brilliantly," said Mississippi State head coach John Cohen, who notched his first regional victory with the Bulldogs. "We did what we had to do which was attack the strike zone. We are really pleased but we have a big challenge in front of us tomorrow."
The Bulldogs threw their sixth shutout of the season and their first in postseason play since Justin Pigott blanked Florida State 3-0 in a 2007 regional tournament game in Tallahassee, Fla. Coupled with last week's performance in the Conference USA Tournament, Southern Miss has now gone 25 consecutive innings without scoring.
"In a regional game, there is a lot of pressure," Pollorena said. "I just tried to get a zero up there in the first inning and go from there. I can't say enough about our defense."
The Maroon and White garnered all the offense it needed with a Nick Vickerson RBI-double in the first inning and a Brent Brownlee two-run single in the sixth inning.
In the first inning, C.T. Bradford drew a leadoff walk from Southern Miss ace Todd McInnis. Ryan Collins attempted a sacrifice; however, the bunt reached Collins and retired Bradford. After a lineout, Vickerson lined an RBI-double to left center.
While that would prove to be enough offense, the Bulldogs did tack on two more scores in the sixth inning. Vickerson drew a leadoff walk. Jaron Shepherd followed with a single. A sacrifice-bunt by Cody Freeman advanced both runners. Brownlee, a defensive substitution in the fourth inning, followed with a hard-hit two-run single back up the middle.
"It is kind of funny how the game finds you," Brownlee said. "You get put in the game and have to run a fly ball down hit deep in the gap. Offensively, you have a chance to help the team. The first pitch I saw was a slider, so I thought that he might come back with it."
The Bulldogs collected seven hits off McInnis (8-3), who threw his second complete game in a row. The senior right-hander struck out six and walked two, while throwing 116 pitches. On a blistering warm afternoon, Pollorena threw a season-best 118 pitches.
"We had some really timely hits," Cohen said. "That was the difference in the ballgame."
Bradford was the lone Bulldog multiple hitter, with a pair of singles. Vickerson and Freeman had the squad's only extra-base hits.
Southern Miss finished with eight hits. B.A. Vollmuth, Marc Bourgeois and Mark Ellis each had two hits apiece.