June 4, 2011
No. 3 seed Mississippi State remains the only unbeaten team in the NCAA Atlanta Baseball Regional as it defeated No. 4 seed Austin Peay 8-3 Saturday evening at Russ Chandler Stadium.
With the win, State (36-24) moves into the championship round while Austin Peay (34-23) will face Georgia Tech at 3:00 p.m. Sunday in an elimination game. The Bulldogs will await the winner of the Austin Peay/Georgia Tech game at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Mississippi State put up the big inning, a seven-run fourth, and that was all it needed due to starting pitcher Evan Mitchell’s masterful performance. He threw eight shutout innings while allowing only five hits and striking out eight in only his sixth start of the season.
The true freshman out of nearby Marietta, Ga. tried for the complete game but left the contest with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and no one out. All three of those runs eventually scored off reliever Daryl Norris.
“We are really proud of the effort that (Evan) Mitchell gave to us today. His last three outings have been outstanding,” head coach John Cohen said. “He did a really good job attacking the strike zone tonight, and that is what he has to do to be effective.”
State struck for the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning on a RBI single off the bat of Nick Vickerson, plating C.T. Bradford who singled to start the frame.
The Bulldogs blew the game wide open in the bottom of the fourth with seven runs. The rally started with a RBI triple just inside the first base bag by Bradford, who then scored two pitches later on a Cody Freeman sacrifice fly to force Austin Peay into its bullpen.
New Governor pitcher Chuck Edlin walked the first two batters he faced before Jaron Shepherd singled off his glove to second base, allowing Jarrod Parks to score from second base on a close play at the plate. In fact the play was close enough for Austin Peay head coach Gary McClure to argue with the home plate umpire and ultimately get ejected from the game.
Austin Peay went to the pen again, this time to reliever Mike Herbert whose first pitch hit the State batter and loaded the bases for the third time in the game for State. The Bulldogs plated the fourth run of the inning on infield single by Jonathan Ogden and Ryan Collins recorded his second hit of the inning, a bases-loaded two-RBI single to left.
Wes Thigpen capped the seven-run frame with a RBI double down the left field line scoring Ogden, but Collins was nailed at the plate for the final out of the inning.
Austin Peay loaded the bases in the ninth forcing Mitchell out of the game and scored its only three runs of the game on a Jon Clinard RBI single and fielding error by Mississippi State’s Collins.