April 15, 2013 10:47:36 AM
COLLEGE STATION Texas -- The No. 21 Mississippi State University baseball team made the most of its first Southeastern Conference baseball series against Texas A&M University.
MSU pounded out a conference game-best 15 runs on 19 hits Sunday in a 15-4 victory at Blue Bell Park.
The victory gave MSU (30-9, 8-7 SEC) a rare SEC road sweep, while Texas A&M slipped to 21-16 and 6-9. The Bulldogs have won five of their last six conference games and have earned back-to-back series victories. MSU is above .500 in league play for the first time this season.
All doubt was removed with an eight-run fourth inning. Already leading 1-0, the Bulldogs scored all of the runs with two outs. The big blow was a grand slam by Nick Ammirati, one of three home runs by the Bulldogs. The grand slam was MSU's first of the season.
"Nick had such a huge swing," MSU coach John Cohen said. "It really is unheard of in this league to score eight runs in one inning. We were able to do just that with two outs. We just kept plugging away and scoring some runs.
"I felt along this team had a chance to get on a roll. We have pitched it well and defended it well all season. This weekend, you should saw great at-bats and some of our capabilities on offense."
MSU's effort Sunday helped it eclipse the it eclipse a 15-hit effort in a 9-3 victory Saturday. For the weekend, the Bulldogs scored 27 runs on 39 hits.
"The league is elevated now with 14 teams," Cohen said. "It is difficult to win a series, let alone to be able to sweep a series, especially on the road. I thought we had some good fortune. Then we got some barrels in the right spot."
Prior to the Ammirati slam, Brett Pirtle drew a bases-loaded walk and Wes Rea ripped a two-run single. Derrick Armstrong also had an RBI with a bases-loaded walk. Ammirati capped the inning with his grand slam to left field.
Rea's RBI double gave MSU the lead in the first.
The offense would be more than enough for winning pitcher Jacob Lindgren (3-1). Lindgren allowed three hits and three runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out five.
Texas A&M scored all four of its runs in the sixth when MSU committed two errors in the inning.
Ross Mitchell got the Bulldogs out of their tight spot in the sixth before giving way to Jonathan Holder in the seventh. Holder faced 10 batters and struck out four in three innings of one-hit relief for his 11th save.
"Jacob really gave us a quality start," Cohen said. "Ross came in and got the double play ball, but we couldn't execute. That is very rare, because we are a great defensive team. However, our errors extended the inning.
"Jonathan came in after that and really put his stamp on the game. He did a great job of closing things out."
MSU expanded the lead with four scores in the eighth and two more in the ninth.
The Bulldogs had RBI singles by C.T. Bradford, Ammirati, and Adam Frazier in the eighth. Renfroe hit his league-best 13th home run of the season and Rea hit his third in the ninth.
Rea had his first four-hit game of the season. Renfroe had his fifth three-hit game, while Ammirati had his second. Pirtle added his eighth multi-hit game and Armstrong his first.
Ammirati set a career high with five RBIs, while Rea drove in a career-best four.
Krey Bratsen had three of Texas A&M's eight hits. Mitchell Nau added multiple hits. Starting pitcher Corey Ray (3-1) failed to make it out of the fourth and took the loss.
MSU will play host to Auburn University this weekend. Game one of the three-game weekend series, which will coincide with Super Bulldog weekend, will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday (ESPNU) at Dudy Noble Field. Game two will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday (Comcast Sports Southeast), while the finale will be at 4 p.m. Saturday.
"A lot of teams around the league have had trouble drawing fans to the Thursday night game," Cohen said. "I don't want that to be our problem. We need the place packed out Thursday night. This is tremendous exposure for our team and our university. It is a big recruiting weekend for the program as well. This is another opportunity for our fans to show why they are the best fans in college baseball. We are excited coming home and playing before those fans. It is going to an incredible atmosphere and a big weekend for our club."
The first 8,000 fans in attendance Thursday night will receive free T-shirts. A postgame fireworks show also is planned.