Brandon Woodruff opened the evening with six innings of no-hit baseball and Wes Rea closed the door on South Alabama in the 12th inning with a two-run walk-off home run to give Mississippi State the 2-0 win over South Alabama on Tuesday night.
The Bulldogs had three pitchers combine for a no-hitter through eight innings of work before Jonathan Holder surrendered a hit in the top of the ninth inning.
The Jaguar pitchers were up to the task as they held State to just two hits entering the final frame. And while some scratched their head with Woodruff being lifted in the seventh for Ross Mitchell, Woodruff explained it was his call.
“That’s the first time I’ve thrown that many pitches in a while so I just went ahead and told them to take me out and get the other guys in,” he said.
After the game MSU head coach John Cohen couldn’t say enough about the youngster’s effort.
“Obviously, I thought Brandon (Woodruff) was just outstanding,” said Cohen. “He got in the 60 pitch-count range and he told Butch Thompson ‘I think I’m done, I’ve got nothing left.’ That’s what you would expect because he hadn’t been close to that kind of pitch count and we wanted to protect his arm.
“I know we did the right thing because we have to protect him.”
South Alabama used four pitchers on the evening and held State to just five hits, but the final swing was all it took for MSU. Demarcus Henderson opened the 12th with a hit-by-pitch and with one out Rea hit a towering shot over the fence in the right field corner. Nick Zaharion, the USA left fielder, could only take two steps before stopping to watch the game winner go over the fence.
“I knew I got that one. I had a couple early in the year that fell at the wall but I got all of that one,” said Rea. “I’m not going say that you go to the plate looking to hit a home run, but you certainly looking for a pitch to drive and do something with.”
Defensively State was near perfect turning three double plays, giving the Bulldogs a total of 40 on the season, which matches their total for all of last season.
“We pitched it great tonight, 16 punch outs, that’s a pretty good night, but we’ve got to get better at the plate and everybody in that dugout knows that,” said Cohen. “We just weren’t very good offensively tonight. I’ll go watch it on film and it is always better on film than it was during the game. We didn’t get a couple of bunts down and those are the things that bother you but on defense we did some brilliant things.”
State will be back in action on Friday night as they travel to Columbia, South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks at 6:00 p.m. with Chris Stratton expected to take the mound for MSU.