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Smith column: Baseball win for Bulldogs could be big

March 22, 2011

It could have been very easy for the Mississippi State Bulldogs to say to themselves "what's the use" after being shutout by the Vanderbilt Commodores in the first two games of last weekend's Southeastern Conference series in Nashville, Tenn.
The Bulldogs were dominated 10-0 in the first game and dropped a 4-0 decision in the second game.
Those who follow MSU were left wondering if the squad would be able to score a run against Vanderbilt, much less pull out a victory.
In the third game, the Bulldogs wouldn't be denied.
Mississippi State fell behind 6-1 and the "here we go again" syndrome could have kicked into gear.
Instead, the Bulldogs showed the kind of fight and determination that has been lacking the last few seasons.
MSU scored five runs in the eighth inning for a 9-8 victory, its first victory against a ranked opponent this season. The Commodores were listed No. 2 in the country and could very well be the best squad in the SEC Eastern Division.
That fact the Bulldogs didn't go to Nashville and get swept can be considered huge. The win MSU got may be magnified down the stretch of the season as far as it getting to Hoover, Ala., for the SEC Tournament.
It does set up a huge home series this weekend against the Auburn Tigers, who won two of three games against Arkansas to open SEC play.
There's a great deal of baseball left to play this season, but the Bulldogs could be in pretty good shape with a two out of three or sweep against the Tigers.
Even though MSU may still be looking for a third starting pitcher in the SEC rotation, it has a good first two with Devin Jones and Chris Stratton. The Bulldogs are going to be in most games that they work.
What needs to happen in Starkville this weekend is for fans in the thousands to fill Polk-DeMent Stadium to support MSU. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate to make that happen.
I've been around Bulldog baseball long enough to know that when a crowd of about 7,000 or more starts to get into the game, it shoots an extra boost of energy into the team.
That may make all the difference against Auburn.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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