STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi State started Easter weekend on a good note Thursday night with a 13-2 victory against No. 13 South Carolina in a Southeastern Conference baseball game played at Dudy Noble Field.
MSU had its best offensive outing in league play with 13 runs scored on 12 base hits. The Bulldogs never trailed and broke open the contest with a six-run third inning.
MSU won its conference series opener for the first time this season. The Bulldogs improved to 20-12 overall and 4-6 in league play, while the Gamecocks fell to 20-10 and 5-5.
“We really had a good approach at the plate,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “The guys swung the bats with confidence. We were aggressive out there. The early runs really helped set the tone for the game.”
MSU roughed up South Carolina starter Will Crowe, by collecting eight hits and eight runs (seven earned) in 2.2 innings of work.
The early offense would be more than enough for lefthander Lucas Laster (4-1). Throwing his second complete game and the team’s fifth this season, Laster allowed eight hits and two runs (both earned), with only one walk while tying a career high with eight strikeouts.
“Lucas really picked the team up and carried them on his back,” Cohen said. “It really means a lot when you can play the first game in a series and not go to your bullpen. Lucas came out there and really challenged the hitters. He knew the defense was going to make plays behind him and he also knew he could get some punch outs along the way.
“His start was really big when you play a day earlier than usual. It means you can keep everyone in the same rotation.”
The Bulldogs set a season high with six doubles.
Cody Brown, John Holland and Ryan Gridley led the way with three hits apiece. Jake Vickerson also recorded multiple hits. Vickerson and Holland both had their first two-double game of their careers.
MSU scored twice in the first inning to build the early lead. A Brown double began the inning. Vickerson followed with an RBI double. The Bulldogs would score again on the Gamecocks’ first error of the game.
In the third inning, the lead was expanded to 8-0 when Mississippi State chased Crowe (3-3) and eventually had six runs on five hits in the frame. Gridley and Brown each had run-producing singles. However, the big blow in that frame was a three-run double by Holland.
South Carolina reached Laster for single runs in the fourth and sixth innings. MSU responded with two runs in the sixth and seventh innings and another score in the eighth.
Elliott Caldwell and DC Arendas each had two hits for the Gamecocks.