February 23, 2013 1:31:51 AM
STARKVILLE - After a 94-minute rain delay, the Mississippi State University baseball coaching staff were going over and over the possible matchup combinations Purdue could throw at them.
And then Boilermakers decided to trot out the same pitcher, freshman right-hander Mike Lutz, who started the inning and the damage was created for the Bulldogs without much effort. MSU used Purdue's mistake to claw its way to a 3-2 victory Friday night.
Following the rain delay at Dudy Noble Field, Lutz plunked both Mitch Slauter and Hunter Renfroe in a matter of five pitches giving the No. 5 Bulldogs (6-0) its first lead of the evening in the seventh inning at 2-1.
"When it's this early in the year, you just don't know their personnel well enough at all," MSU coach John Cohen said. "With us we got Ben Bracewell hot in the bullpen and then the rains came and (MSU pitching coach) Butch Thompson said 'absolutely not' to bringing him in the game.
Despite one mistake to Renfroe in the sixth inning that was sent over the center field wall at 400 feet, Purdue freshman left handed prospect Jordan Minch had the MSU offense in check by allowing just three hits over the first five innings.
The victory marked the first 6-0 start for MSU since the Bulldogs ran off 18 straight victories in route to being ranked No. 1 by Baseball America before losing 17 of 28 Southeastern Conference games.
Purdue (3-3), who defeated Samford University 9-4 in the first game of the Diamond Classic in Starkville, ran out four freshman pitchers Friday night and gave up only two earned runs. The defending Big Ten Conference champions, got a RBI from pinch hitter Kyle Wood and veteran third baseman Sean McHugh. McHugh was invited to play this summer in the prestigious Cape Cod League and is one of the few returnees from last year's Purdue team that hosted a NCAA Regional tournament in Gary, Ind.
MSU starting pitcher Jacob Lindgren was solid again in a no-decision allowing just one run on three hits while striking out six but issuing no walks in 68 pitches. The sophomore from St. Stanislaus High School had his two-pitch combination of two-seam fastball and slider working through the middle of the Purdue (3-3) order that finished 2 for 18.
"I give a lot of credit to (MSU catcher) Mitch Slauter for calling a great game and knowing what I could throw well tonight," Lindgren said. "I really was just trying to change eye levels of what I was throwing tonight."
Once MSU regained the lead at 3-2 on a sacrifice fly from freshman outfielder Jacob Robson, the Bulldogs turned to sophomore closer Jonathan Holder as the Gulfport native has been more than dominant in the late innings this season. Holder, who allowed just one earned run in 28 1/3 innings last season, has struck out 11 of 14 batters face without surrendering a single hit. Holder's career ERA in a MSU jersey is 0.28, which is one earned run over 32 2/3 innings, but he got his third career win Friday night.
"I get some lucky breaks and to be honest, the people that come in before me just do a great job of pounding the bottom of the strike zone," Holder said. "I''ve been working a split finger changeup to left-handed batters but right now I'm still working with just fastball and curveball."
Renfroe's blast to tie the score was the fifth career home run for the junior right fielder and third at Dudy Noble Field. The preseason All-American selection and nominee for the Golden Spikes Award was the most valuable player of the Cal Ripken Collegiate League last summer after setting league marks with 19 home runs, 52 runs scored and 57 RBI playing for the Bethesda (Md.) Big Train.
"He throw me a fastball 2-0 and I got every bit of that one," Renfroe said. "It's more about confidence building because I've hit a bunch of balls hard and hadn't had them fall."
MSU will hold a doubleheader at Dudy Noble Field Saturday afternoon when they play Samford at 3 p.m. and Purdue at 6 p.m.
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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