March 22, 2014 12:08:05 AM
STARKVILLE -- There will be a time Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Beede will laugh about his Friday night in Starkville. Just not right now.
Right now one of the nation's best pitchers saw a Mississippi State team knock him around for 11 runs while he managed to record just eight outs. It was a blowout to that is as uncommon in a Friday night matchup in the Southeastern Conference as a solar eclipse.
"Scores like this just don't happen like this in the Southeastern Conference," MSU coach John Cohen said. "We were in this situation a little bit last Friday and our kids were a little bit embarrassed. Vanderbilt will be different the rest of the weekend."
Possibly when he is agreeing to the signing bonus in his professional contract, the Vanderbilt ace right-hander and projected first round draft pick will see the 11 runs he surrendered as a blip on his career.
In front of a frenzied Dudy Noble Field, No. 21 MSU (16-8, 3-1 in SEC) rocked Beede and a mistake-prone Vanderbilt team for a dominating 17-2 victory against the team rated sixth-best in the country.
"Some of those mistakes were forced just by where they happened on the field," Cohen said. "What happened there was our pressure guys were able to make contact and Vanderbilt just didn't field it the way they're expecting to do so every game."
The Bulldogs knocked around Vanderbilt pitching for 14 hits and watched the Commodores defense crumble for five errors in the contest. In their three previous losses before Friday night, Vanderbilt (19-4, 2-2) had given up 15 runs total and Mississippi State accumulated that total in the seventh inning.
Everybody that came to the plate for MSU but one player either scored a run, earned a hit or both Friday night.
MSU junior shortstop Seth Heck, who has started the last 14 games in the middle of the diamond, reached base five times including two hits and two walks. The transfer from Tacoma (Wash.) Community College had 4 RBIs in the game and is now second on team with a .333 batting average. Since March 1, Heck is hitting at a .357 clip with 8 walks, 8 runs, 8 RBIs, a pair of stolen bases and two doubles.
"On the off chance you're a person that still doesn't believe hitting is a contagious act, tonight kind of reinforced that idea again," Heck said. "
MSU jumped all over Beede for 11 runs in the first three innings as 11 of the first 15 MSU hitters reached base. The last time Vanderbilt gave up that many runs in a game was a 18-6 loss in the second game of the 2008 season.
Beede lost all confidence on the mound after failing to touch first base on a routine wheel play in the opening inning and losing his footing in the infield grass on an MSU bunt in the second inning. By the time Vanderbilt pitching coach Scott Brown pulled Beede, the junior had already seen his earned run average jump from 0.84 to 3.11.
"We were really hunting the fastball tonight because what really separates Beede from the rest of the country is his changeup," Cohen said. "That's what makes him so good and allows him to get strikeouts. When he doesn't get swing-and-miss action, teams feel like they can really attack him."
After losing the SEC opener last weekend, MSU is off to its best conference start since 2006 as the Bulldogs moved to 10-4 in its last 14 contests against Top 20 ranked opponents. The last time MSU scored that many runs against Vanderbilt was 1997 and the 17 runs were the most by MSU against a SEC opponent since April 19, 2009 vs. Kentucky.
"The 17-2 doesn't mean anything to me because it could be 1-0 and it's a win all the same for us," Cohen said. "You have to find a way to capture the same emotion and same level the rest of the series."
With the large cushion to work with in his first career SEC start, Preston Brown (3-0) managed to roll 15 ground ball outs against a dejected Vanderbilt lineup. Brown earned his third quality start of the season, which leads the Bulldogs, and allowed just four earned runs over 32 innings this season. In his three previous starts, Brown had received 16 runs of support from his offense but was able to calm the nerves when he saw four runs on the board in the opening frame.
"That big lead really made it easy for me to find the strike zone and let my fielders work tonight," Brown said. "I guess I'd be lying if I said I didn't relax after all those runs."
Brown's 97-pitch performance allows MSU to have a rested bullpen after suffering through three straight losses on Friday where they had tried two other starting pitchers. Amazingly, it might have been a weather alert forcing a Saturday doubleheader in Georgia for the Bulldogs to find its Friday night answer.
"If you're not going to throw a 94-96 miles per hour fastball with a unbelievable breaking ball, then your identity has to be about quick pitch innings and engaging your defense," Cohen said. "That's what Preston did tonight and the only way you do those things is shoving it in the strike zone."
The series resumes at 7:30 p.m. Saturday with a scheduled pitching matchup between MSU junior left-hander Ross Mitchell (3-1, 1.50) and VU junior left-hander Jared Miller (5-0, 0.57). ESPNU will have the national television broadcast. The series finale is at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
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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