STARKVILLE - After staring the leadoff hitter with three straight pitches out of the zone, redshirt-freshman Christian MacLeod came back to register the first of a career-high 12 strikeouts in six shutout innings to help the Mississippi State baseball program to a 5-1 series-opening victory against Quinnipiac on Friday (March 6) at Dudy Noble Field.
Two runs in the fourth inning got the scoring started for Mississippi State (8-4), before two more came across in the fifth. A single run in the seventh inning capped the scoring for MSU, before Quinnipiac (1-9) added their lone run on a solo home run in the eighth.
MacLeod (4-0) became the second Diamond Dawg freshman to post multiple 10-plus strikeout games during their rookie season, adding to his 11-strikeout game in his debut versus Wright State. The left-hander joins Eric DuBose (1995) and Paul Maholm (2001) with two 10-plus strikeout games.
Versus Quinnipiac, MacLeod allowed just three base runners over six scoreless innings. A third-inning single, along with a fourth-inning base hit and walk. He retired eight straight hitters to start the game and sat down the final nine batters he faced - seven via strikeout.
At the plate, Mississippi State was led by junior Jordan Westburg's 2-for-5 night. He scored two runs and hit his second home run of the season. Seven other Diamond Dawgs accounted for hits in the game, with junior Josh Hatcher adding his second home run of the season - a two-run shot - in the fourth inning. Freshmen Kamren James and Logan Tanner each accounted for RBIs in the game, as well.
Sophomore Brandon Pimentel was on base three times, twice via walk and once with a single. Juniors Justin Foscue and Rowdey Jordan were each on base twice in the game, as well. Sophomores Luke Hancock and Landon Jordan each chipped one hit and one walk in the contest.
Michael Kohn produced the only Quinnipiac run with his second home run of the season, a solo shot to lead off the eighth inning. Kyle Maves and Ian Ostberg accounted for the other two Bobcat hits in the game. Christian Nicolosi (0-2) took the loss with two runs allowed in 3 2/3 innings of work. He surrendered four hit, walked six and struck out two.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis On the offensive approach tonight "I think they did a great job with their starter. I think he was at like 85 pitches in four innings. So, we were taking the changeup that was bouncing and taking some of the breaking balls up and made him really work. We've had a little bit of tough luck; Foscue hits a [home run] on another night. Josh Hatcher crushes that ball. Josh had some really good at-bats with the home run and everything. I was pretty pleased."
On Christian MacLeod being composed on the mound
"He's kind of a quite kid. I just saw him in the hallway on my way in. I just think when you miss a whole year like he missed, he is just so happy to be here and compete and be healthy and help the team. This time last year he was coming and seeing us every couple of weekends. I'm just happy to have him back, and he's worked so hard to get to this point."
Josh Hatcher followed a Logan Tanner walk with his second home run of the season to right field.
Mississippi State 2, Quinnipiac 0
Jordan Westburg led off the inning with a solo home run to right-center field, before Justin Foscue walked. After a walk and a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out, Tanner grounded out to plate the second run of the inning.
Mississippi State 4, Quinnipiac 0
A leadoff single from Westburg started the inning, before he moved to second on a Brandon Pimentel base hit. After a pitching change, Kamren James' pinch hit single scored the fifth run of the game for MSU.
Mississippi State 5, Quinnipiac 0
Michael Kohn hit his second home run of the season to right field.
Mississippi State 5, Quinnipiac 1
The Diamond Dawgs and Bobcats will return to the diamond at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 7.