March 13, 2013 2:11:26 AM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
PEARL -- It may be not be long before Hunter Renfroe gets paid professionally to play in Trustmark Park.
For now, the Mississippi State University junior outfielder proved he loves playing in the ballpark of the Atlanta Braves' Double-A affiliate. Renfroe finished Tuesday night with a career high six RBIs in a 13-5 victory over the University of Southern Mississippi.
Renfroe was 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles that represented his eighth multi-hit game of the 2013 season. The highlight of the night was a massive three-run home run to left field on a 3-1 pitch off Golden Eagles right-hander Sean Buchholz that had the announced crowd of 6,948 on their feet.
"I love playing in this ballpark, it's real close to where I grew up with all my family and friends here," Renfroe said. "I believe one day I could play here and be wearing a Mississippi Braves jersey one day."
In three career games at Trustmark Park, Renfroe is hitting .364 (4 for 11) with nine total RBIs The junior, who was nominated as a preseason All-American selection and Dick Howser Trophy watch list, is currently tied for the Southeastern Conference lead with five home runs in 2013.
"I've always said this but there's just no limit to how good Hunter Renfroe can be," MSU coach John Cohen said. "He hit a line drive out of the ballpark with a 10 mile-per-hour wind in his face. He's special and he's different and everybody knows that."
Mississippi State ended Mason Robbins' night on the mound less than 30 minutes after the first pitch. Robbins, a 2011 Mr. Baseball selection out of George County High School, lasted just 2/3 of an inning after surrendering four earned runs on just 22 pitches.
The 6-foot-2 left-hander gave up RBI extra-base hits to Renfroe and Mitch Slauter and was quickly pulled for former MSU recruit Boomer Scarborough.
The 4-0 lead after the opening inning was MSU's second-most runs scored to open a game after Cohen claimed this past weekend his team had lost its offensive identity.
"We had a good talk about that and it's a good timing because we're on spring break so we spent more time dealing with that than we'd normally get to," Cohen said. "The thing that is neat about this group is they're older and they relax in pressure situations."
Scarborough didn't fare much better Tuesday night. The prep teammate of MSU sophomore left-handed pitcher Jacob Lindgren at St. Stanislaus High School hung a curveball to Renfroe that was easily deposited into the left-center field gap for a two-RBI double to give Bulldogs starting pitcher Luis Pollorena a 6-0 early cushion.
Pollorena (4-0) earned this third career victory against USM and will likely finish his three-year MSU career just giving up four earned runs against the Golden Eagles (7-9) in 16 2/3 innings over three appearances.
MSU freshman second baseman Kyle Hann had his first career multi-hit game of his college career since arriving in Starkville after being a star on the Canadian National Junior Team. The former Oklahoma State University verbal commit had his first ever RBI in a college game on a single to right field in the opening inning. Hann came into the contest batting just .154 in 26 at-bats in the 2013 season.
"I'm getting used to everything involved with college baseball and I needed a lot more confidence especially when we're getting into SEC play," Hann said. "This park plays so much like our ballpark where you have to play more ground ball (and) line drive than fly ball -- unless you're Hunter Renfroe of course."
The Bulldogs (18-2) put up a double-digit run total just days after Cohen suggested his club had lost "its identity" in a series loss to the University of Central Arkansas at Dudy Noble Field. MSU had eight players record a hit, four players recorded multi-hits and the top four spots in the order combined to finish 7 for 16 with nine RBIs and 10 runs scored.
"We worked the count really well and finally got some balls we could drive," Renfroe said. "I believe we're ready for SEC play and that's not to say we have nothing to work on."
After stopping its two losing streak in its first and only game away from Starkville, MSU will return to Dudy Noble Field Friday night for a 6:30 p.m. contest against No. 7 Louisiana State (15-1) to open SEC play for both teams.