Bulldogs slash Golden Flashes

Jackson Fristoe, a freshman from Paducah, Kentucky, cheers as he pitches during this past weekends matchup with Kent State University in Starkville, Mississippi, at Dudy Noble Field.

After news broke Wednesday morning that Mississippi State University's original opponent, Tennessee Tech University, had to cancel their trip to Starkville due to COVID-19 concerns, MSU was left scrambling to find an opponent.

Luckily for the Dawgs, Kent State was also looking for an opponent after their series at West Virginia had been canceled due to COVID-19 issues, so the two scheduled to play in Starkville, Mississippi, this past weekend. The Bulldogs pulled off their first no-hitter since 1999, with a combination of four key pitchers throughout the weekend.

Christian MacLeod, a junior from Huntsville, Alabama, got the start on Friday night for the Bulldogs and had a rough go of it, only going one 2/3 innings surrendering three runs (two earned), four hits, three walks and four strikeouts.

When asked about MacLeod's start, Head Coach Chris Lemonis said his beginning performance was out of the ordinary. 

"Usually he's really good with his command, and he just kind of nibbled around the plate tonight," Lemonis said. 

"(MacLeod will) put his nose to the grindstone starting tomorrow morning, and he'll be fighting to get out there and have a good start next week," Lemonis said.

Mississippi State University then looked to junior Brandon Smith from Richland, Mississippi, to limit the damage, and he came through big time. Smith threw four 1/3 innings of dominant baseball, striking out and not allowing a baserunner in the process.

The Bulldogs were in trouble headed to the bottom of the fifth, down 3-1, but that is when the bats finally woke up. The senior from Theodore, Alabama, Tanner Allen started the scoring with an RBI single. Soon after, another senior, Josh Hatcher, an infielder and outfielder from Albany, Georgia, was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to push the tying run across.

MSU's Diamond Dawgs took the lead on a two-run single by Luke Hancock, and they never looked back from there, scoring three more runs in the game and pushing their lead to 8-3 which would hold to be the final score.

Saturday was not as kind to Mississippi State University, as junior Eric Cerantola had another rough start on the year. The Oakville, Ontario, native went three innings, allowing four runs, five hits, four walks and four strikeouts.

On the other side, Kent State University's Luke Albright, a junior from Fishers, Indiana,  showed why he is their ace, allowing just one run on five hits in 6.2 innings, adding four strikeouts as well as four walks.

The Golden Flashes were all over the Bulldogs taking a 9-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Mississippi State University put up a last-ditch effort in the ninth, but it was not nearly enough, with Kent State University pulling off a 9-5 win.

Sunday was a great day for the Bulldogs, with freshman Jackson Fristoe on the bump for his third start of the year. The Paducah, Kentucky, native had about as good of a start you can have in the game of baseball, taking a perfect game into the seventh. His eight strikeouts propelled MSU's staff to a combined no-hitter, along with Landon Sims, Mikey Tepper and Cam Tullar all "pitching" in.

When Fristoe was asked about his start on Sunday he spoke about how the weekend with Kent State University was not like his other weekends of play.

"I just had kind of a different mindset today going into this game which I think made me fill up the zone a little bit more," Fristoe said.

Mississippi State University put 13 runs on the board, with a huge performance by the sophomore infielder from Southaven, Mississippi, Kamren James, who has struggled at times in the early going in 2021. James went three for four with five RBI's on the day, including a two-run homer in the fifth inning.

The Bulldogs will be back in action at the Dude this week, as they take on Grambling State University at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday and University of Louisiana-Lafayette on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.

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