STARKVILLE— Hitting proved to be the difference between Southern Miss and Mississippi State as the Bulldogs outhit the Golden Eagles 13-4. A pair of home runs from Mississippi State’s Dustin Skelton carried the Bulldogs while Southern Miss struggled at the plate in the 8-1 Saturday loss.
“We talked about the three phases, offense, pitching and defense,” Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said. “We got beat in all three of those today.’
Mississippi State’s Justin Foscue rattled Southern Miss starting pitcher Stevie Powers with a leadoff home run in the second inning. The home run kick-started a four-run inning and was followed by three back-to-back singles that helped Mississippi State jump out to a comfortable 4-0 lead.
Powers was not able to finish in the inning and allowed four runs on six hits, walked one batter and struck out one in 1.2 innings pitched.
“I don’t think he had his best stuff but I think when he missed they hit,” Berry said. “I think his secondary stuff wasn’t as sharp to compliment that fastball. They put some good swings on some pitches and some hitters counts. You have to get ahead of hitters and I think moving forward that’s what he’ll probably take from this.”
Powers leaving the game early forced Southern Miss’ bullpen to finish the game. A total of eight pitchers used by the Golden Eagles.
Skelton hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning and added a solo home run in the seventh inning. The junior hit just one home run as a sophomore in 2018.
Southern Miss’ hitting had a frustrating day after accumulating just four hits.
The Golden Eagles’ lone run came in the eighth inning when Will McGillis knocked in an RBI single following a Gabe Montenegro hit a triple.
“I feel that we just need to get more rhythm in the offense,” Montenegro said. “Just get on base any way we can. Just keep avoiding the strikeouts just try to put the ball in play and then just get something started.”
Of the 54 times Southern Miss stepped to the plate, the Golden Eagles struck out 27 times between the first two games. In addition, Southern Miss did not have its leadoff runner reach base once.
“We have got to do a better job of putting the ball in play and pressuring their defense right now,” Berry said. “Too many times where it’s been the pitcher and the catcher getting us out. We have got to do a better job with that and make those adjustments.”
Mississippi State’s starting pitcher JT Ginn threw nine strikeouts, walked one batter and allowed two hits in seven innings off work.
“We need to try and just keep it simple,” Montenegro said. “Just try and put the ball in play and let them make the mistakes. We just have to look at it as another game. [Tomorrow] is an opportunity to take the series. We just need to forget about this one and just move on.”
Southern Miss and Mississippi State will play on Sunday at 1 p.m.