Sophomore center fielder Mark Goforth matched a career-high with a 3-for-5 plate performance and drove in three of the Bulldogs’ four runs to pace MSU’s 13-hit, all-singles night at the plate.
“Chad Crosswhite pitched lights-out against a nice Tennessee lineup. I’m proud of him,” said Bulldog head coach Ron Polk. “It’s also nice to have a kid like Aaron Weatherford throwing 93, 94, 95 miles per hour come in when you’re protecting a lead.”
The Bulldogs totaled 13 hits, their 23rd double-digits hits total in 31 games. Goforth opened the game with a single off Tennessee ace lefty James Adkins, who stranded a pair of runners in the first inning. But in the second inning State broke through with a run. Jeff Flagg and Connor Powers delivered one-out singles and Goforth followed with a two-out hit that scored Flagg. Brian LaNinfa, who like Flagg and Connors registered a two-hit game, opened a three-run Bulldog scoring spree in the sixth inning that featured five consecutive two-out hits off Adkins. Powers’ second hit of the night scored one run and Goforth’s third single of the game plated two more as State claimed a 4-3 lead.
Crosswhite, making his second start of the season and in a second straight SEC Friday night matchup on the road, faced one batter over the minimum over the first five innings. The Volunteers cut into MSU’s 4-0 lead with a pair of unearned runs in the sixth. A fielding error and back-to-back singles by Julio Borbon and Tony Delmonico plated one run and an infield groundout scored another UT run in the inning.
Tennessee closed the gap to 4-3 with a run in the seventh when Danny Lima opened the frame with a single and Shawn Griffin ripped a triple to the right-center field gap, the only extra-base hit by either team in the game. But Crosswhite, after issuing a one-out walk, retired Borbon and Delmonico to end the inning.
Relief pitcher Aaron Weatherford, MSU’s Friday night starter for much of the season, entered the game in the eighth, retiring all six batters he faced to close out the game and earned his first save of the season and the third of his Mississippi State career.
Adkins (4-5) took the loss, striking out seven but allowing four runs on 13 hits before giving way to Aaron Everett, who struck out four and pitched 2-1/3 innings of scoreless, no-hit relief.
The Bulldogs played without senior second baseman and team co-captain Jeffrey Rea, who did not make the trip following a death in his family. Freshman shortstop Brandon Turner replaced Rea at second and freshman Russ Sneed took over for Turner at shortstop. Turner singled in the seventh inning off and extended his current hitting streak to 12 games, his second 12-game hitting streak this season.
The series resumes Saturday with a 6:06 p.m. CT game at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Junior lefty Justin Pigott (3-3, 5.61) will open on the mound for MSU opposite UT right-hander Craig Cobb (6-2, 4.62).