April 29, 2013 7:59:08 AM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The No. 3 Vanderbilt University baseball team scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning Sunday en route to an 8-3 victory against No. 16 Mississippi State University at Hawkins Field.
The victory helped Vanderbilt (39-6, 19-2 Southeastern Conference) sweep MSU (33-13, 10-11) and win their fourth-straight series from the Bulldogs in the Music City.
MSU had won three straight conference series and was swept for the first time this season.
"We didn't locate pitches down in the strike zone early and the game got away from us," MSU coach John Cohen said. "Vanderbilt hit some balls hard. We got to throw at the bottom of the strike zone. That is how we have won 33 games this year. We got away from our identity today. It doesn't matter how hard you throw, if you don't locate.
"As coaches, it is our job to get the players back when we run away from our identity like that. We just didn't do the things that we need to do and that we can do."
Vanderbilt chased starting pitcher Jacob Lindgren in the first inning. Lindgren (4-2) lasted just two-thirds of an inning after allowing three hits and five runs (all earned). He struck out one.
Vanderbilt touched Ross Mitchell for two more runs in the second and carried a 7-0 lead into the sixth.
The Bulldogs broke up the shutout with an RBI single by Brett Pirtle in the sixth. MSU had a chance at a bigger inning, but a line drive double-play ball snuffed that threat.
The Bulldogs scored again an inning later when Pirtle forced in a run with a bases-loaded hit by pitch. However, MSU stranded three runners in the at-bat.
"Credit to Vanderbilt because they played really well all weekend," Cohen said. "We just didn't do the things we have been doing, such as playing the great defense. I still feel like this club has its best baseball ahead. This is still a team that can get on a run.
"I am a big believer of you making your own breaks. Still, the middle of our order hit the ball hard all weekend and didn't have a lot to show for it."
MSU had eight hits, including a multi-hit game by Pirtle, his third in the last four games.
Vanderbilt's T.J. Pecoraro (2-1) worked five innings and earned the win. He allowed four hits, three walks, and one run (earned). He struck out two. Conrad Gregor had three hits for Vanderbilt, including his second home run. Tony Kemp also had two hits.
The Commodores didn't commit an error in the series.
MSU will play host to the University of Alabama at 6 p.m. Friday (ESPNU), 2 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Dudy Noble Field.