MSU swept for 4th consecutive SEC series
STARKVILLE — Vanderbilt used a seven-run fourth inning and a solid pitching performance from Jack Armstrong to cruise past Mississippi State, 14-4, Sunday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.
The Commodores swept the season series for the third consecutive time over the Bulldogs and improved to 39-13 overall and 15-10 in the Southeastern Conference.
With the win VU clinched its fifth straight trip to the SEC tournament and its seventh appearance in eight seasons under Tim Corbin.
Mississippi State fell to 21-31 overall and 5-22 in the SEC.
Armstrong (7-1) scattered nine hits over seven innings of work, allowing two runs, while striking out four and walking two.
Back to back doubles by Curt Casali and Andrew Giobbi in the second put the Commodores on the board in the second.
A pair of three-run homers by Bryan Johns and Giobbi keyed a seven-run fourth inning to push the lead to 8-0. It was Johns first homer as a Commodore and it was Giobbi’s sixth of the year and the second of the weekend.
“I look at [Johns’s] home run, really, as [what got] things started,” said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. “It was a first-and-third situation, and in the back of my mind, I’m thinking of a possible safety squeeze. But he just took first-pitch fastball, sat on it, and took it out.”
The Bulldogs plated two runs with two-outs in the fourth on a RBI single by Jet Butler and a RBI double by Jonathan Ogden.
VU responded with four more in the fifth with Brian Harris hitting a RBI double and Curt Casali a two-run double to help key the way.
Jordan Wormsley’s RBI groundout and Harris’ RBI single to center scored two more runs in the eighth to make it 14-2.
Jaron Sheperd’s two-run single in the eighth off of Navery Moore made it 14-4.
Drew Hayes pitched a scoreless ninth to close out the game.
Jason Esposito finished off a hot week at the plate by tying a school record with five walks. He added a double in his only official at bat and scored two runs as well. Esposito joined Paul Gagliano (3/15/78), Greg Smith (4/13/86) and Hunter Bledsoe (2/13/99) as the only Commodores to ever achieve the feat.
Joe Loftus led VU with three hits while five other Commodores had two hits on the day.
The Commodores will return home to take on Arkansas in the final SEC series of the season. The teams will open play on Thursday at 6 p.m. and will continue on Friday at 6 p.m., before closing the regular season out on Saturday at 2 p.m. The finale will be televised on SportSouth.