Commodores drop SEC opener to Mississippi State

March 19, 2016

Box Score |  Howell's Photos 

Nashville, Tenn. -- No. 15 Mississippi State rallied for a run in the 13th inning to top No. 2 Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference opener 2-1 at Hawkins Field in front of a sold out crowd on Friday night.

The Commodores (16-2, 0-1) and Bulldogs (13-5-2, 1-0) battled through the first 12 innings on Friday to a 1-1 tie before the Bulldogs caught a break in the 13th. With one out, Mississippi State's Luke Alexander hit a looping line drive into shallow right-center field but the baseball caromed off the second base umpire and rolled to the right field foul line for a one-out double. Matt Ruppenthal looked to be working out of the jam after a strikeout for the second out of the inning but Cole Gordon's bloop single down the left field line was enough to score Alexander from second to put the Bulldogs in front.

The Commodores put the leadoff man on in the bottom of the inning but failed to get a ball out of the infield to drop the team's first home game of the season.

Mississippi State took an early lead in the first inning thanks to a leadoff double and error from Ethan Paul at second base. But starter Jordan Sheffield battled back to strand the bases loaded in the second and third innings to keep the Commodores in the game. His offense finally picked him up in the fourth, taking advantage of a Bulldog error. Will Toffey reached on the error and quickly scored on Alonzo Jones' single into center field to tie the game.

The two teams remained knotted into extra innings when the Dores loaded the bases in the 11th inning. A leadoff single from Toffey was followed by a Jones fielder's choice. Jason Delay's single into shallow right field looked to be enough to get Jones to third but a perfect throw from right fielder Cody Brown nailed Jones at third. A pinch hit double from Kyle Smith kept the rally alive and a walk to Penn Murfee loaded the bases. Freshman pinch hitter Walker Grisanti, however, went down looking on strikes to end the threat.

Ruppenthal took the loss despite turning in a career-best seven innings of relief. The right-hander fanned seven and scattered three hits. Sheffield struggled with command over six innings but limited the damage to a lone unearned run. The right-hander walked five and allowed five hits to go along with his nine strikeouts.

Toffey led the Vandy offense with two hits and two walks in the loss.

Ryan Rigby earned the win out of the Mississippi State pen with 2.1 innings of work. The right-hander worked out of the bases loaded jam in the 11th and allowed only one base runner after that. Bulldogs starter Dakota Hudson struck out eight over nine innings while allowing only an unearned run.

The Commodores return to action tomorrow night on SEC Network at 7:30 p.m. Lefty Ben Bowden is set to take on Mississippi State's Austin Sexton.



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