February 25, 2018 12:21:42 AM
From Special Reports
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- An eight-run fourth inning sparked an explosion from Mississippi State's offense Saturday as they cruised to a 14-4 win against Nicholls State (1-5) in the Kleberg Bank College Classic at Whataburger Park in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Freshman Tanner Allen led the charge with a 3-for-3 performance, combined with a pair of doubles and four RBIs. Hunter Stovall had a team-high four base hits while Jake Mangum also collected three hits.
On the mound, Ethan Small earned a quality start after tossing 6.0 innings, striking out eight and allowing three runs, all unearned. Denver McQuary relieved him and was able to go the final three innings while allowing just one run.
"The kids were loose and stayed in the ballgame," MSU head coach Gary Henderson said. "Getting six inning out of Ethan and then and having Denver come in and get a three inning outing in was really positive."
State (3-3) struck with a four-run first inning off of three doubles from Bulldog batters. MSU added another run in the third and then broke the game open with an eight-run fourth inning.
The fourth inning was highlighted by Allen's second two-RBI hit, a Marshall Gilbert two-RBI double and RBI singles from Mangum and Josh Hatcher as the Bulldogs moved ahead 13-0.
MSU added one more in the sixth inning when Jordan Anderson, a pinch runner, scored on a bases loaded fielding error. Anderson earned his first hit as a Bulldog in the next inning.
Shortstop Joey Morales was in on all of Nicholls State's four runs, hitting a three-run home run in the top of the fifth and an RBI single in the ninth.
On Friday, MSU rode a two-home run performance from Josh Hatcher and some late insurance runs to a 7-4 victory over UC Santa Barbara.
Victory was not assured until Blake Smith got three straight outs (two by strikeout) after the Gauchos had loaded the bases on three singles with no outs in the home half of the ninth inning.
"We would have liked to play a cleaner game, however, that was still a great win," Henderson said. "(Konnor) Pilkington competed well today. Blake was great there in the ninth inning but the biggest thing was scoring twice in the top half of the inning. What our offense did in that at-bat was outstanding."
Hatcher got the Bulldogs off on the right foot with an opposite-field home run in the first inning.
The true freshman then became the first Bulldog with two home runs in a game this season with another opposite-field shot to kick start a four-run fourth inning.
Hunter Vansau reached on a dropped third strike. Luke Alexander and Tanner Allen followed with back-to-back doubles. Elijah MacNamee then plated two more scores with a two-out single.
Andrew Martinez hit a two-run home for the Gauchos in the fifth inning.
UCSB then scored twice in the eighth inning to make things tight again.
In the ninth inning, Jake Mangum and Hatcher had back-to-back RBI-singles to give Bulldogs some breathing room in the bottom of the ninth inning.
MSU finished with 10 hits. Hatcher had three hits, while Mangum and Alexander each had two hits.
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