April 24, 2014 9:45:41 PM
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State offense brought its week-long momentum from Columbia, Mo., through Pearl and to Dudy Noble Field Thursday night.
No, it doesn't mean MSU posted a ridiculous amount of runs but with the season long consistency of pitching and defense, four runs in six innings felt like a blowout number. The Bulldogs battered Texas &M early pitching to a 4-1 lead with three innings left to complete where they pounded out six hits and knocked out freshman left-handed pitcher Tyler Stubblefield before he could record an out in the second frame.
A weather delay began at 8:35 p.m. and the contest was eventually postponed until 5 p.m. today. The second game of the series will start immediately after Thursday's postponed game concludes.
MSU is expected to start junior left-hander Ross Mitchell (6-3, 2.13) in the second game of the series against A&M's veteran Daniel Mengden (2-6, 4.09). MSU starter Trevor Fitts took the mound for the warmup tosses prior to the start of the seventh inning but is unlikely to come back the following day after throwing a 84-pitch effort.
Stubblefield was just another SEC starting pitcher that withered under the pressure of a opening night Dudy Noble Field crowd. As the first three runs crossed home plate, the only out the Diboll, Texas native was able to record was a sacrifice bunt by Brett Pirtle. In just one inning, Stubblefield allowed four runs, three walks, a wild pitch that scored the third run of the night.
At home this season, MSU has knocked out Vanderbilt ace Tyler Beede before the third inning due to control problems and Stubblefield's start was no different.
Gavin Collins continued his hot streak with the bat after he knocked a two-RBI single in the right-center gap after Heck and Detz started the contest by getting on base. Collins is now 11-for-27 (.407) with nine RBIs last eight games including run-scoring hits in his last three games. The freshman from California also guided Fitts from behind the plate through a rocky but scoreless first inning.
Fitts immediately rebounded from the shaky first inning to completely shut down an A&M lineup that was near the top in many offensive categories. The junior right-hander had his longest outing since March 1 against Eastern Illinois when he lasted 6 2/3 innings. The Pelham, Ala., native finished with six strikeouts and allowed just three balls in play out of the infield from the second to fourth inning.
No. 20 MSU (27-15, 10-8 in SEC) now 23-4 when they score at least four runs in a game.
Seth Heck continued to relish the leadoff spot with a two hit evening. The transfer from Tacoma (Wash.) Community College made it 4-0 on a run-scoring double down the left field that followed Matthew Britton's single to open the inning. Britton, who had a hit in the victory over Ole Miss in Pearl, showcased his confidence at the plate by getting his fifth hit in the last three games.
The bottom five members of the Texas A&M lineup were 0 for 12 with four strikeouts as Fitts dominated despite some control issues in a fifth inning that resulted in the Aggies (25-17, 8-10) only run.
Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.