The Diamond Dawgs used a blazing starting pitching performance and phenomenal bullpen work to dispatch in-state rival Southern Miss by a final score of 4-1 at Trustmark Park, home of Minor League Baseball’s Mississippi Braves, on Wednesday night.
Senior left-hander Houston Harding (1-1) got the starting nod in Pearl, MS, and he did not disappoint. The southpaw went 5 innings, giving up 1 run on 2 hits and fanning 9.
The Bulldogs struck first in the bottom of the 1st when Scotty Dubrule reached on an error and was then advanced to 2nd on a Tanner Allen single. A Logan Tanner RBI single plated Dubrule and put the Dawgs on top 1-0. The Golden Eagles would strike back to tie the ballgame in the top of the 3rd when Blake Johnson doubled to left. Dustin Dickerson then singled to advance Johnson to 3rd. An errant throw from the outfield sent Dickerson to 2nd and scored Johnson to tie the game at 1-1. The contest wouldn’t stay knotted long, as Brad Cumbest led off the bottom of the 3rd with a triple and was plated by a Rowdey Jordan sacrifice fly to give the dawgs a lead they would never relinquish. Mississippi State would tack on 2 more runs in the bottom of the 5th when Scotty Dubrule reached on an infield single and then stole second. He was then plated by a Tanner Allen single to make the score 3-1. Allen was then scored by a Logan Tanner single to make the score 4-1, and that’s where it would hold as the Bulldogs improved to 6-2 on the year and the Golden Eagles fall to 4-4.
On the mound for the Bulldogs, Houston Harding struck out 9, Preston Johnson fanned 6, Cam Tullar rang up 2, Stone Simmons (1) got his first save and sat down all 3 batters he faced in the 9th on the K. The Bulldog pitching staff combined for 1 ER on 3 hits, while striking out 20. That is the most strikeouts in one game by Bulldog pitchers since this exact day in 2002 when Joey Collums and future World Series champion Jonathan Papelbon combined for 20 K’s against Jacksonville State.
At the plate, the Diamond Dawgs received 2 hits each from Scotty Dubrule, Tanner Allen, Logan Tanner, and Brad Cumbest. Logan Tanner also had a 2 RBI night. Also notable is that Luke Hancock was the recipient of 3 walks on the night.
When asked about the feeling of making his first appearance on the year against a team like Southern Miss, Preston Johnson said, “Coach Lem’s (Lemonis) motto for this team is “Let ‘em know” and I told myself it was time to “Let ‘em know”.”
Southern Miss starter Drew Boyd (1-1) took the loss.
The Diamond Dawgs return to Dudy Noble Field to host the Golden Flashes of Kent State for a 3-game series over the weekend. The original plan was for the Bulldogs to play host to former Mississippi State assistant Steve Smith and his Tennessee Tech ballclub, but those plans were derailed Wednesday morning due to reported COVID complications within the Tennessee Tech program. Credit must be given to the Mississippi State baseball staff and the athletic staff at Mississippi State for locating an opponent in mere hours. Kent State comes into Starkville after their series at West Virginia this weekend was also called off due to COVID complications. The Golden Flashes are fresh off of a series sweep of the same Tennessee Tech team that was scheduled to make the trip to Starkville.
With game times still to be announced, check back for updates on this article, or follow me on Twitter @ZR_Treadway for the latest updates.
Recap and Box Score can be found here