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Offense backs Whitney in MSU's SEC opener


Danny P Smith



STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State pitcher Tyler Whitney was key in the clutch to make sure coach John Cohen was a winner in his Southeastern Conference debut with the Bulldogs. 


Whitney got out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning and the MSU offense did the rest in a 13-6 victory against South Carolina on Saturday in the first game of a doubleheader at Dudy Noble Field. 


The opener was postponed from Friday due to heavy rain and the second game of the doubleheader was suspended by fog in the third inning with the Bulldogs leading 4-0. 


Mississippi State (11-4), which had a season-high 13 runs on 15 hits, snapped a four-game losing streak to South Carolina. 


"It was a huge win for us," Whitney said. "(South Carolina) has kind of had our number the past couple of years so to beat them on our home field and take care of business is big. 


"It''s a different ballgame when you hit SEC. There is a different feeling. The teams tend to be a little bit better. You''ve just got to come out ready to play and compete." 


Whitney (2-0) lived up to those words in the top of the fifth inning when he got South Carolina clean-up hitter Justin Dalles to pop out to first base on a 3-2 count with the bases loaded. 


It was an inside fastball that Whitney used to get Dalles, who failed to get a hit in the game. 


"He fouled off a couple of pitches before that on a couple of sliders away," Whitney said on the sequence to Dalles. "We just stuck with our gut and went in. Fortunately, we got him to pop up." 


After Whitney got out of trouble, the Bulldogs struck for seven runs on seven hits in the bottom of the fifth. 


Luke Adkins had a two-run triple, while Jet Butler, Ryan Powers and Scott DeLoach each had an RBI single as MSU took a 12-4 lead. 


Whitney knew he was coming out of the game after throwing 94 pitches. He left with a 5-4 advantage so he was happy to see the offensive explosion. 


"It was huge to get that and I think that inning is what won the game for us," Whitney said. 


The Bulldogs gained an early 1-0 edge on a solo home run by Russ Sneed in the second inning. 


After South Carolina tied the score with a run in the third, MSU responded with three runs on two hits in the bottom of the inning with the big hit being a two-run single by Butler. 


Whitney gave up a three-run homer to Andrew Crisp to tie the game 4-4 and then the Bulldogs regained the lead when Ryan Powers scored on a groundout by Butler. 


Powers, Butler and Adkins had three hits each to pace MSU, while Butler drove in four runs and Adkins had three RBIs. 


Whitney gave up four runs on four hits with three strikeouts and two walks in five innings. Forrest Moore pitched the last four innings and gave up two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts and one walk to pick up his first save of the season. 


The game started with a light mist falling and ended with fog rolling in. 


Whitney said players have to be ready to perform in any type of weather. 


"We know there are sometimes going to be tough conditions when we show up to the field and that''s OK," Whitney said. "We''re used to playing those. We play in a lot of intersquad games when it''s cold and rainy so it wasn''t a big deal." 


The second game will pick back up at noon today in the third inning and played through the nine innings. The third game will be shortened to a seven-inning outing. 


"The umpires felt it wasn''t necessarily safe," Cohen said of continuing play on Saturday. "The other concern was the people we called were saying that within 15-30 minutes we were going to get a heavy rain and we didn''t want to send our starting guys back out there." 


Cohen said it was possible to get second game starting pitcher Nick Routt back to the mound when the game resumes. Routt only threw 19 pitches before the fog suspended play. 




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