NASHVILLE-– Sophomore left-hander Ryan Mullins struck out six in seven innings helping lead Vanderbilt to its 30th win of the season with a 5-1 decision over Mississippi State Saturday at Hawkins Field. Vanderbilt took a 2-0 lead in the series after a 7-2 victory Friday over the Bulldogs. The final 30 minutes of Saturday's game was played in the rain.
The Commodores collected six hits and drew four walks in the contest. Mullins gave up one run on six hits and walked just one batter to improve his record to 5-2 on the season. Sophomore righthander Jeff Sues pitched two innings of relief and did not allow a hit while striking out two and walking one.
"We beat a good team that is really even with us right now," VU Head Coach Tim Corbin said. "And we got a good pitching performance from Ryan Mullins, and (Jeff) Sues finished the game the way we wanted him to. We played really good defense.
"We didn't hit a lot, but in that situation, the hits we had were big."
Vanderbilt scored two runs in the first inning before registering an out. Leadoff hitter Ryan Klosterman drew a walk and scored when Mike Baxter hit a standup triple, the first triple allowed this season by MSU starter Todd Doolittle. Baxter then scored when Doolittle threw a wild pitch with Warner Jones at bat.
MSU threatened to score in the fifth inning when Thomas Berkery reached first when he rolled a bunt just fair on the third base line. Jeff Butts hit a single to left field, moving Berkery to second. Berkery moved to third when Jeffrey Rea reached on a fielder's choice, forcing Butts out at second. With runners at first and third, Mullins struck out Steve Gendron to retire the side.
"It all came together today," Mullins said. "I got out of some tough situations that I put myself into and I just pitched out of it."
The Commodores added two in the fifth inning when Antoan Richardson hit a two-run home run just under the scoreboard in right center field, scoring Douillard who had reached on a single. It was Richardson's second home run of the season and his 19th and 20th RBI.
"I was just looking to hit the ball between first and second, because there was a hole there and get Douilly (Jonathan Douillard) to second base and pass it on to Klosty (Ryan Klosterman)," Richardson said. "(Doolittle) left the ball up in the zone and I got the barrel to it."
Craig Tatum put the Bulldogs on the board in the sixth when he hit a solo home run over the center field fence.
The Commodores added its final run in the sixth inning with two. Douillard hit a single to right field and moved to second when Richardson drew a walk. Klosterman then hit a single to left, scoring Douillard for a 5-1 VU lead. Brooks Dunn came in in relief for starter Todd Doolittle and picked off Richardson at second for the final out of the inning.
Doolittle (2-2) went 5-2/3 innings and gave up five runs (all earned) on five hits while striking out five and walking four. Dunn went 2-1/3 innings with one hit and one walk.
Vanderbilt wins the MSU series for the first time since the Commodores took two of three from the Bulldogs in 2001. VU's 30 wins are the most since 1993, when Roy Mewbourne's Commodores were 32-23-1 (VU won 31 games in 1997, but was forced to forfeit 30 of those wins). It is the third SEC series win this season for Vanderbilt. The Commodores swept Georgia and took two of three at Alabama.
The final game of the series is Sunday at 1 pm with sophomore Matt Buschmann getting his first career SEC start for the Commodores. Buschmann enters the game with a 5-1 record and 3.26 ERA.
Score by Innings R H E
Mississippi State... 000 001 000 - 1 6 0
Vanderbilt.......... 200 021 00X - 5 6 0
Win - R. Mullins (5-2). Loss - Doolittle (2-2). Save - None.
Start: 4 pm Time: 2:17 Attendance: 816