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Post-game at Trustmark Park - Game 41 - MSU 5, Southern Miss 0 - Home run shots and quality pitching lead Bulldogs to victory in Pearl

 

FILE - Mississippi State catcher Mitch Slauter got the Bulldogs offense going with a two-run home run in the fourth inning of a 5-0 victory over Southern Mississippi Tuesday night.

FILE - Mississippi State catcher Mitch Slauter got the Bulldogs offense going with a two-run home run in the fourth inning of a 5-0 victory over Southern Mississippi Tuesday night. Photo by: MSU athletics

 

Matt Stevens

 

STARKVILLE - MSU used the power game in a big double-A professional ballpark to dominate the University of Southern Mississippi 5-0 at Trustmark Park in Pearl Tuesday night.  

 

"Scoring runs when it matters is the name of of this game," MSU junior catcher Mitch Slauter said. "We were just adjusting to a umpire's zone and kept our approach throughout the game."  

 

It was the third multi-home run game of the season as Slauter and redshirt-freshman outfielder Hunter Renfroe sent rockets deep over the wall in left field to pace the Bulldogs (25-16) to a comfortable victory.  

 

It two of only five hits all evening for the Bulldogs but proved to be more than enough offense as three MSU pitchers combined for a six-hit shutout.  

 

"The wind was more favorable tonight," MSU coach John Cohen said "It is not just our yard or this yard, home runs are down everywhere. However, you feel something good when you see the ball leave the bat and it leaves the yard." 

 

For Slauter, who gave MSU a 3-0 lead with his shot to left field off USM relieve Jay Myrick, acted as the rocket off his bat wasn't a big deal. The junior hit 1-for-15 this past weekend in a sweep against the University of Tennessee. 

 

Hunter Renfroe, who in the preseason was rated as one of the better prospects in the Southeastern Conference by several publications, took a fastball from Myrick deep over the left field wall for a two-run shot and produced the final 5-0 result in the fifth inning.  

 

"It was a line drive shot but there was no doubt it was gone," Renfroe said. "I got a two strike approach and thought I'd just try to get there early on a fastball. My style is just to pull the ball and hit it as hard as I can."  

 

Renfroe had been living through a horrible slump in the month of April that produced just three total extra base hits and numerous pop up that failed to leave the infield.  

 

"He's a guy that can look terrible in one at-bat and then do something really special in the next," Cohen said. "He's just too talented to not come around and make the adjustments needed to put up good offensive numbers." 

 

In his first pitching appearance in 10 days, senior left-hander Nick Routt (2-4) tossed three shutout innings in relief to earn his first victory since March 3. 

 

Routt had struggled in each of his last four outings giving up as many runs as innings completed three times since being removed from the starting rotation in the month of April.  

 

"I was really proud of how he defended tonight especially because that double play he turned for the mound isn't easy at all," MSU coach John Cohen said. "That's first and third there and he took the time to look the runner at third back and calmly through a strike to second base for the double. That took a lot of maturity to make that play there and that's what he provides." 

 

The 6-foot-4 southpaw, who was more than solid for MSU in the last month of the 2011 season, went to the fundamentals of his motion for help on how to get outs. Routt said after earning his first victory since March 3 against the University of Connecticut at Dudy Noble Field that change of dropping his arm slot to a motion helped put more movement on his fastball and changeup.  

 

Routt's catcher noticed an extreme difference in the movement of the left-hander's stuff and his overall demeanor on the mound.  

 

"He dropped that arm slot and so that two-seam (fastball) has a lot more movement from side to side now," Slauter said. "When that changeup is his second out pitch then Nick Routt is really good and he was extremely dominant tonight." 

 

Routt was part of a left-handed relief duo with Ross Mitchell that held USM to just two hits over the last five innings. In Trustmark Park this season MSU southpaw pitchers have held batters scoreless for 10 1/3 innings of work including senior Luis Pollorena's dominant 5 1/3 innings against the University of Mississippi a week ago.  

 

In just three innings, Routt (2-4) was able to get four ground ball outs - a rarity this season as teams had found ways to elevate his pitches and find the barrel of the bats consistency to the tune of a 4.66 earned runs average coming to Pearl Tuesday night. 

 

"I came in the dugout tonight saying 'man I feel (ground ball pitcher) Kendall Graveman' and it's nice to get those easy early outs to start off against," Routt said. 

 

MSU has now defeated USM (23-17) four straight games including twice in Trustmark Park and a 3-0 in the 2011 Atlanta Regional opener last postseason.  

 

"We missed on opportunities early in the game," USM coach Scott Berry said. "Between that and walks, they took advantage."  

 

MSU got another solid outing out of freshman right-hander Brandon Woodruff as the highly touted prospect from Wheeler scattered four hits through the first four innings in a 63-pitch effort with four strikeouts.  

 

Woodruff has now 1.08 earned run average against non-SEC opponents this season (two runs over 16 2/3 innings) and made up for some harsh luck in Trustmark Park last week when the University of Mississippi roughed him up with several dumped hits in front of MSU outfielders.  

 

MSU returns home for a Southeastern Conference series with in-state rival Ole Miss this weekend. The Bulldogs and Rebels meet at 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday in a critical three-game series.  

 

"We have to take two out of three from them if we want to think about going to a regional or anything like that," Renfroe said. "That series is critical to us and we all know it." 

 

 

 

Mississippi State (25-16) 5,  

 

Southern Mississippi (23-17) 0  

 

 

 

W - Nick Routt (2-4): 3 IP, H, 0 R, BB, K in 42 pitches  

 

L - Boomer Scarborough (1-2): 2 IP, H, R, 3 BB, 3 K in 51 pitches 

 

 

 

MVP: Mississippi State catcher Mitch Slauter: 2-for-4 with a two-run home run to left field, a run scored and two RBIs.  

 

 

 

Turning point: 4th & 5th inning - Mitch Slauter hit a two-run shot in the fourth inning and Hunter Renfroe followed with his own two-run shot in the fifth inning. 

 

 

 

Numbers of the day 

 

 

 

3 - Number of multi-home run games Mississippi State had accomplished this season. The Bulldogs are obviously 3-0 in those game this season.  

 

 

 

10.1 - Amount of consecutive scoreless innings Mississippi State left-handed pitchers have thrown this season in Trustmark Park. Senior Luis Pollorena held Ole Miss scoreless for 5 1/3 innings while Nick Routt and Ross Mitchell put up zeroes for the final five innings of Tuesday night's win. 

 

 

 

5 - Number of runners USM catcher Chase Fowler individually left on base Tuesday night in a 5-0 loss to MSU. As a team, USM left nine runners on the base path.  

 

 

 

23-7 - Record of Mississippi State in the Magnolia state this season. Bulldogs are 22-6 at Dudy Noble Field while splitting two games in Pearl during the 2012 campaign. 

 

 

 

All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.

 

 

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