March 12, 2018 9:56:30 AM
STARKVILLE -- A day off gave the Mississippi State baseball team the answer.
After a Friday doubleheader in which MSU struggled to get a key hit, MSU found plenty of them Sunday in a 5-3 victory against Utah Valley at Dudy Noble Field.
The win gave MSU (10-6) the series win and its seventh victory in its last eight games.
"The past two days, with two outs and runners in scoring position especially, they've been throwing us offspeed big time," MSU freshman designated hitter Tanner Allen said. "You kind of have to have the approach to look offspeed instead of sitting fastball, but as you can tell it worked for us today."
The refined approach helped MSU go 8-for-17 with two outs Sunday. It paid off in the third inning, when Allen's double scored Hunter Stovall to tie the game at 1.
In the fourth, MSU scored four runs with two outs. Freshman left fielder Rowdey Jordan had the big blow when he took a high fastball for a three-run home run. After center fielder Jake Mangum's single and steal of second base, Stovall singled home Mangum.
The two-out production was the undoing of starting pitcher Walker Ramsey (1-3), who threw 90 pitches in six innings. He allowed five unearned runs.
"Anytime you talk about how well you're hitting with two outs, especially with runners in scoring position, can you stay calm, poised, let it travel, and see what happens? It's the basics," MSU interim coach Gary Henderson said. "When you don't do well in baseball, it's about the basics. It's not very complicated. Sometimes it's not easy, but it's never complicated. It's pretty simple stuff, and we did a lot better job of that in some areas today."
Said Jordan, "Being comfortable, playing with confidence as a team is the biggest thing, and it's why we're playing well. We keep getting momentum and more momentum, and hopefully we can work it into next weekend."
The run support was enough for starting pitcher Jacob Billingsley (2-0) to collect the win, After Denver McQuary pitched the sixth, Cole Marsh, Zach Neff, and JP France pitched three scoreless innings and allowed two hits.
"Jacob clearly wasn't as efficient and sharp as he's been in the past," Henderson said. "For those guys, you go out there 10 times you're only going to be at your absolute best three or four max, so for him to have one of those 70-percent outings and do what he did for us, I think was good.
"We could've have brought him out for the sixth, but I wanted those other guys to pitch."
MSU will play Southeastern Louisiana at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday at MGM Park in Biloxi. It will return home this weekend to open Southeastern Conference action against Vanderbilt. Game 1 of that three-game series will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday (SEC Network).
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson
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