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Bulldogs get offense going in the opener

February 16, 2013

Mississippi State pitcher Jacob Lindgren works against Portland on Friday. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

It was unclear going into the season if the offense was going to be one of the strong points for the Mississippi State baseball team coming into the 2013 season.

On Friday, the question was answered in a positive way for at least the opener.

The No. 13 (College Baseball) Bulldogs slugged out 21 hits in a 16-1 route of the Portland Pilots (0-1) in the 999th win for the Bulldogs at Dudy Noble Field.

"I thought we swung the bat really well (Friday)," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "That's so important for guys to get off to a great start. Confidence in baseball is such a huge thing. Getting hits early in your at-bats is real important and that happened for us. We're very fortunate."

The Bulldogs have won 10-consecutive season openers. It is the sixth time in the last two seasons MSU has scored double digits.  

MSU junior shortstop and Golden Spikes Award watch list nominee Adam Frazier led off the bottom of the first with a single to left field. 

Sophomore first baseman Wes Rea didn't waste anytime and took the first pitch from Portland pitcher Matt McCallister (0-1) over the right center wall for a two-run home run to give the Bulldogs an early 2-0 lead.

"It was luck," Rea said. "He hung a curveball. It was a good start. I'm kind of a first pitch guy and he hung one."

It was Rea's sixth career home run and he extended his four-game hitting streak dating back to last year.
The Bulldogs blew the game open in the second inning, scoring seven runs on seven hits to make it 9-1 in the early going.

MSU sent 12 batters to the plate during the inning.

"It's huge for everybody," Rea said. "The question obviously was offense. It was a good thing to come out and swing the bats. The bats are hot. Hopefully, it will carry over."

MSU started sophomore left hander Jacob Lindgren on the mound. Lindgren went six innings to win his first decision of the season. He gave up one run on five hits. He walked three and struck out three batters.

"We have a really good staff," Lindgren said. "A lot of pitchers could have pitched opening day, but it was just an honor."

Lindgren was able to induce three inning-ending double plays when he found himself in jams. He was confident his defense was going to step up behind him.

"I was just really trying to attack their hitters, let my fielders do work and they produced," Lindgren said. "I was excited."

The Bulldogs led the nation a season ago with 71 double plays. They picked up right where they left off.
"That's who we are," Cohen said. "We spend so much time on that. Our kids just rally around that cause.

They just believe we are going to get double play balls. We have been very fortunate to do that. It's good to get off to that great start offensively."

Lindgren who only pitched 28.1 innings in 14 appearances last year was efficient with 65 pitches in his first outing of the season.

He didn't get his first 1-2-3 inning until the fifth.

"Jacob went out there and really wasn't as sharp as he's been for us," Lindgren said. "He kind of got a little more sharp as time went on over the course of the game."

Lindgren gave way to redshirt freshman right hander Preston Brown who pitched one solid inning.

Freshman righty Myles Gentry and senior left hander Chad Girodo also pitched one inning each. 

The Bulldogs added two more runs in the third inning on a two-run shot down the right field line by junior center fielder C.T. Bradford.

Bradford missed a good bit of last season due to a shoulder injury. It had been awhile since Bradford had seen any playing time.

"C.T. came up to me during (batting practice) and said, 'Coach, I haven't played in 10 months,'" Cohen said. "I said that I didn't even think about that and thanks for reminding me. He really swung the bat well."

For Bradford, he was glad to get another opportunity to play and play against somebody other than his own teammates.

"We are just excited to get out there," Bradford said. "We've been playing each other for the past six months, so it was good to get out and play another team."

MSU scored one run in the fifth inning, three in the sixth and capped the scoring with one run in the seventh.

The Bulldogs had 12 different players get hits. Senior catch Mitch Slauter extended his seven-game hitting streak, dating back to last season, with a career-high four hits.

Frazier and junior third baseman Daryl Norris each had three hits.

The Bulldogs and the Pilots meet again today and Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. today and Portland will send the 2012 West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year Travis Radke, a sophomore left hander.

The Bulldogs will give the nod to junior righty Evan Mitchell. 

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