May 7, 2011 11:24:00 PM
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Nick Routt picked up his first win Saturday to lead the Mississippi State baseball team to a 5-3 victory against the University of Tennessee in a Southeastern Conference game at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Coupled with its 16-5 victory Friday, MSU (28-18, 10-13 SEC) clinched its second conference victory of the season. The Bulldogs also claimed their first conference road series since winning twice at Ole Miss in 2009, and their first series in Knoxville since 2001.
MSU won one game in a rain-shortened series in 2007.
Tennessee fell to 22-22 and 5-18.
MSU, which has won its most SEC games since 2007, remains tied with Ole Miss for fourth place in the Western Division standings and eighth place in the overall league standings.
In his longest start of the season, Routt was lifted after a leadoff walk in the seventh inning. He (1-2) allowed five hits and three runs (all earned), with three strikeouts and five walks. Tim Statz faced three batters in relief. Taylor Stark worked the final 2 2/3 innings of hitless relief to earn his second save. He struck out four and walked one.
"Nick did not have his best control but, for the most part, he pitched well," MSU coach John Cohen said. "I can''t say enough about what Taylor Stark did for our ballclub. He was great out of the bullpen. We really needed that lift."
The Bulldogs built an early 4-0 lead with single scores in the first and third innings and two scores in the fourth inning.
In the first, Ryan Collins started things with a one-out single. After a steal of second base and a walk to Cody Freeman, Nick Vickerson delivered an RBI double.
In the third, Hunter Renfroe hit a leadoff double -- his first hit. After a sacrifice bunt, Renfroe scored on a groundout by Collins. In the fourth, Vickerson and Jaron Shepherd hit back-to-back solo home runs. For Vickerson, it was his fourth, while Shepherd has now hit three.
In the seventh, Tennessee loaded the bases thanks to two walks and a fielding error. It scored one run, but Stark closed the door, allowing one baserunner on a ninth inning one-out walk.
"This team came to Tennessee and needed to make a statement," Cohen said. "We have been able to do that this weekend."
Collins and Vickerson had multiple hits. Vickerson has 16 hits in his last 29 at-bats. Third baseman Jarrod Parks ran his hit streak to 19 games.
Matt Duffy had two of Tennessee''s five hits.
n On Friday, Vickerson''s three-run double highlighted a five-run fifth inning that helped MSU win the opening game of a weekend league series for the first time in four weekends.
The Bulldogs had 15 hits and scored their most runs in a conference game this season. Earlier this year, the Bulldogs beat Auburn 15-8 on a Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field. After breaking a 2-2 tie with the five-run fifth inning, the Maroon and White blew the contest open with six scores in the seventh inning.
For MSU, it was also the most runs scored against Tennessee in 72 career matchups. The victory margin was also the largest ever against the Volunteers, bettering a 13-3 win in 1990.
Making his first career start, Luis Pollorena (6-3) garnered the win. The sophomore left-hander threw 5 1/3 innings, scattering 11 hits and allowing five runs (all earned). Caleb Reed entered in relief and worked the Bulldogs out a tight spot in the sixth. Devin Jones threw the ninth inning.
The teams will close the series at 1 p.m. today (SportSouth). MSU is scheduled to start sophomore right-hander Chris Stratton (4-5, 4.98 ERA), while Tennessee hasn''t announced its starting pitcher.
1. MSU hopes Williams makes most of another opportunity COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Run in first set sparks Caledonia volleyball team HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Hard work in summer has MSU's Weatherspoon ready to go COLLEGE SPORTS
4. No. 3 EMCC has two to go before postseason COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Playoff fates will be on line in Week 10 LOCAL COLUMNS