STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - On the final day of the opening weekend of Southeastern Conference play, No. 19 Mississippi State was unable to hold off No. 11 Vanderbilt as the Commodores rallied to a 4-3 win Sunday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.
Vanderbilt improved to 15-5 overall and 3-0 in league play, while MSU fell to 10-10 and 0-3. The Bulldogs were held to four runs in the series.
"It was good to get off to a fast start and have a little excitement in the dugout," MSU head coach Gary Henderson said. "I feel positive about all of the pitchers who threw today. We had one difficult inning."
In the first inning Sunday, the Bulldogs took an early lead. Jake Mangum and Luke Alexander had back-to-back hits to start the inning. Tanner Allen followed with a sacrifice fly.
Mangum got the Bulldogs on the board again in the third inning. He doubled, took third base on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.
Vanderbilt scored four times on a pair of base hits and an MSU error in the fifth inning. The big blow was a two-run single by Connor Kaiser, giving the Commodores a 3-2 lead. A throwing error scored another run.
In the sixth inning, the Bulldogs got their final score on a two-out RBI-single by Jordan Westburg.
MSU's final chance in the ninth included a one-out walk earned by Hunter Vansau. Back-to-back strikeouts snuffed that threat.
The Bulldogs were held to six hits and stranded six base runners. Mangum was the lone Bulldog with multiple hits.
Jacob Billingsley (2-1) drew the start. He worked 4.1 innings, allowing two hits and three runs (all earned), with five strikeouts and four walks. JP France worked the Bulldogs out of the fifth inning and worked until there were two outs in the eighth inning. Zach Neff and Blake Smith each pitched to close out the contest.
Vanderbilt also had six hits. The Commodores stranded 13 base runners. Austin Martin had two hits for the Commodores.
Mason Hickman (4-0) threw five innings for the win. Tyler Brown threw the final four innings for his second save.
State will return to Dudy Noble for a 6:30 p.m. CT first pitch on Tuesday against Alcorn State, before closing a five-game homestand on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. vs. Texas Southern. The games will be streamed live on SEC Network+ via WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app.