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Bulldogs clinch series over the Rebels

1792 days ago
Mississippi State Athletics

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Another day meant another complete-game pitching gem and another victory against an arch rival for the Mississippi State baseball team.

Junior right-hander Austin Sexton pitched a complete-game four-hitter and allowed no earned runs as No. 12 MSU clinched its Southeastern Conference weekend series with No. 11 Ole Miss by taking a 6-2 victory Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field. The Diamond Dawg pitching staff has not allowed an earned run in its last 20 2/3 innings pitched and has not issued a walk in its last 27 23 innings of work.

A crowd of 11,515 saw the Bulldogs sew up their fourth-straight series victory, the longest streak in a single season since the 2003 squad won five series in a row. Winners of 12 of its last 16, MSU maintained first place in the Western Division standings, moving to 20-7-1 overall and 6-2 in league play. Ole Miss lost its fifth straight while falling to 20-7 and 2-6.

After junior right-hander Dakota Hudson pitched a four-hitter in a 3-1 victory for the Bulldogs Friday night, Sexton (3-1) was equally as tough. The Huntsville, Alabama, native fanned eight batters and walked none in his third complete-game victory.

"We were pleased with Austin Sexton," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "Our pitching has been great for both games in the series. Two complete games are huge. We are so proud of Austin. He challenged the strike zone. He relied on the defense. The strikeout to get out of the eighth inning was huge."

In its last 17 home games, MSU's starting pitching has gone 12-0 with a 0.49 ERA. During that stretch, State's starters have tossed nine quality starts, three complete games and have struck out 10.0 batters per nine innings.

The Bulldogs got all of the offense they would need by scoring once in the first inning and three more times in the second inning. Jake Mangum got the party started with a solo home run to right field in the first inning - his first round-tripper in the Maroon and White.

In the second inning, both Elih Marrero and Cody Brown singled. A walk to John Holland loaded the bases. Ryan Gridley and Jacob Robson followed with back-to-back RBI-singles. Mangum drove in a run when he reached as a hit batsman.

The seventh frame saw the Bulldogs expand the lead when both Mangum and Humphreys had run-producing doubles.

Ole Miss bunched together three hits and an error to score twice in the eighth inning. Both runs were unearned. Sexton got out of that jam and then put the side down in order in the ninth inning as the cowbells roared loudly in approval.

MSU finished with 12 hits. Robson, Mangum, Gridley and Nathaniel Lowe each had two.

"What a great atmosphere today," Cohen said. "From a recruiting standpoint, if you saw this, why would you want to play anywhere else? Our fans were great. They braved the weather last night. They just helped make this a great series for our ballclub."

Tate Blackman had two hits for Ole Miss. Starting pitcher Chad Smith (2-3) was lifted in the second inning and took the loss.

MSU and Ole Miss complete the series with a 1:30 p.m. start Sunday. The game will be available nationally on SEC Network +.