Playing their first road games of the season, the Bulldogs found the going tough in Hammond as Southeastern also won the series opener, 4-3 Tuesday night. The Lions have now won five straight overall against the Bulldogs.
“We didn’t do a good enough job with runners in scoring position,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “When you have a young club, sometimes they go up there swinging the fences. Sometimes, you try to do too much too quickly. We talked about that in the pregame. We talked about being patient and doing the little things.
“You like the aggressive attitude, but we have to find a way to be more efficient.”
The Bulldogs hit 2-of-24 with runners in scoring position during the two-game series. MSU’s starting lineup included one player not a freshman or sophomore and that was junior college transfer Nick Ammirati.
In its Southeastern Conference opener Friday at LSU, the Bulldogs appear likely to start a lineup, which includes only two players who have played previously in a conference game.
“We are not going to use our youth as an excuse,” Cohen said. “We are going to continue to show up and battle. I feel really good about the kids we have in our program. We have had some injuries but that has allowed others an opportunity to step up.”
Stepping up Wednesday night was true freshman left fielder Tyler Fullerton. Not part of the original travel plans for this week, Fullerton has been pressed into duty and delivered. After collecting one hit in his Maroon and White debut, Fullerton had four hits in Wednesday night’s defeat.
Demarcus Henderson and Trey Porter each had multiple hits for MSU. Henderson extended his hit streak to 10 games with a pair of singles.
Southeastern (13-5) grabbed a quick 2-0 lead off MSU starting pitcher Will Cox in the first inning. Cox worked three innings, allowing six hits and four runs (all earned), with three strikeouts and no walks.
In relief, Brandon Woodruff and Jonathan Holder sparkled for the Bulldogs. Woodruff worked 3.1 innings, allowing two hits and one run (earned), while Holder faced only five batters in his 1.2 innings of work.
“Will struggled out there tonight,” Cohen said. “He made some mistakes that freshman pitchers sometimes make. After that, we had two freshen come in relief who threw really well.“
The Bulldogs (14-5) scored their lone run in the second inning on an RBI-single by Ammirati.
The Lions moved back to a comfortable lead with two scores in the third inning and tacked on an additional score in the fourth inning.
Brock Hebert and Sam Roberson each had two of the Lions’ eight hits. Middle reliever Kaleb Manuel (1-2) got the win, while Dylan Hills earned his first save.
MSU opens Southeastern Conference play this weekend with a three-game series at No. 13 LSU. The Bulldogs and Tigers will play at 7 p.m. Friday (Cox Sports Television), 6 p.m. Saturday (Comcast Sports Southeast) and 1 p.m. Sunday (no live television) from Alex Box Stadium Baton Rouge, La.