Dogs Split With Blue Raiders

Ryan Duffy

WINCHESTER, Tenn. - Mississippi State scored three runs on two first-inning home runs and Ryan Duffy doubled in a needed insurance run in the ninth Wednesday night to give the Bulldogs a 4-3 win over Middle Tennessee State at Loel Bennett Stadium. The win gave the Bulldogs a split of their midweek two-game set with the Blue Raiders.

State travels to Baton Rouge, La., this weekend to close out an eight-game road run with a three-game SEC series against Louisiana State.

The Bulldogs used the long ball to jump out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Tyler Moore launched his team-leading 12th home run, a two-run blast, and Jet Butler added a season-first solo shot off MTSU starter P.J. Francesco.

Middle Tennessee closed the gap with a pair of runs in the fourth inning, chasing MSU starter Forrest Moore from the game. Moore, who worked around base runners in the first three frames, gave up a one-out single to Bryce Brentz, four walks and a sacrifice fly by Justin Miller. Michael Busby came on to strike out Zach Hudson with the bases loaded to end the inning.

Pitching dominated the remainder of the game. The Bulldogs managed but one hit and two base runners against MTSU relief man Brett Smalley through the eighth inning. In the ninth, however, Smalley, after retiring the first two batters he faced, walked Jeff Flagg and threw a wild pitch before Duffy followed with a double into the right field corner.

The Blue Raiders put their first two batters on base in sixth and seventh, but relief pitcher John Lalor struck out two straight to snuff out the MTSU threat in the sixth and with runners at second and third MSU relief ace ended that rally with a pair of strikeouts.

Weatherford struck out five in 2-2/3 innings to pick up his sixth save of the campaign. The MSU relief ace gave up his first earned run of the campaign when Rawley Bishop lofted a first-pitch, two-out home run to right, pulling the Blue Raiders to within a run at 4-3. Weatherford then struck out Bryce Brent to end the game.

Busby (1-4) picked up his first career win with 1.1 innings of scoreless work in relief of starter Moore. MTSU starter P.J. Francesco (1-3) took the loss, allowing three runs (one earned) on five hits over six innings.

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