Mississippi State and Portland faced off in a pitchers dual at Dudy Noble Field Saturday in Starkville. The Bulldogs defeated the Pilots 2-1 giving Mississippi State their 1,000th career win at Dudy Noble Field.
MSU's Demarcus Henderson had a clutch RBI single Saturday in MSU's 2-1 win over Portland
“It’s a real credit to a lot of people that have been through this program. All the players, all the coaches, I think it’s just another milestone that makes you proud to say you’re a part of this program,” said John Cohen. Evan Mitchell threw five innings allowing one run and only three hits while striking out six Pilots and walking three to get the no decision. Ross Mitchell recorded the win (1-0) and it moved him to 4-0 in his career.
The Bulldogs took the lead in the bottom of the fourth after Wes Rea reached on a strikeout wild pitch. Trey Porter singled and Rea moved from first to third, and scored on a Hunter Renfroe suicide squeeze.
The Bulldogs had to play small ball all afternoon going against Portland ace Travis Radke, who threw 6 2/3 innings allowing seven hits and striking out nine Bulldog hitters while throwing 114 pitches.
“Their left hander was very good; he’s an SEC caliber pitcher. He changes speeds and nothing comes out of his hand the same two times in a row,” said MSU Coach John Cohen. He added that, “I wish we had done better against him, but this early in the year I think he did a great job.”
Portland tied it up in the top of the sixth after Evan Mitchell gave up a walk to start the inning and was relieved by Ross Mitchell. The lefty Mitchell gave up a hit to right field to Portland’s Cody Lenahan which scored a run and tied the game at 1-1.
“I’m not going to pass it up twice. I remember going back to last year against Samford and the same thing happened, so that has kind of been playing over in my head for a while. So I wasn't going to let the opportunity go to waste this time,” said the Bulldog left fielder.
Pitching coach Butch Thompson played the matchup game in the top half of the eighth. Bracewell started the inning and gave up a leadoff walk. Bracewell came back to get a 1-2 count on the next hitter before he was replaced by lefty C.T. Bradford.
Bradford struck out the Pilots hitter and moved back to center field and in came Bulldog closer Jonathan Holder who finished the inning.
“We've gone over this during the spring with guys coming in with two strikes, but I had gotten loose during the 6th and felt fine. Ben (Bracewell) did a great job getting those two strikes,” said Bradford.
Holder stayed in the game to pitch the 9th and set down Portland in order recording two strikeouts to get his tenth career save and first save this season.
“They had a great lineup; a lot of them can really put the bat on the ball. That eighth inning I had to be cautious with the runner in scoring position. Daryl made a good play and I had good defense,” said Holder. He added that, “I love the closer role, I gave a speech to the team about adrenaline and it gets me going. I love the feeling out there when I have my team and everyone in the dugout behind me.”
The Bulldogs move to 2-0 on the young season and will play Portland twice tomorrow with a double header to close out opening weekend. The first game will start at 1pm and the second game will follow.