by Knox Bardeenknoxbardeen@css-sports.comATLANTA - In-state rivals Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State traveled more than 300 miles each to play one another at Russ Chandler Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. in the NCAA Atlanta Regional on Friday. In what was an old-fashioned pitchers duel, the No. 3 seed Mississippi State outscored the No. 2 seed Southern Miss, 3-0.
Recent history foreshadowed a rough outing for Mississippi State starting pitcher Luis Pollorena. Since being promoted to the rotation just under a month ago, the 5-foot-six inch sophomore has a 9.50 ERA in three starts and a relief appearance.
But earlier this season, Pollorena won a game in relief over Southern Miss, throwing 5 23 innings of one-hit, shutout baseball.
Turns out that Pollorena must really like pitching against the Golden Eagles. He gave up no runs on just five hits Friday to earn his second win of the season against Southern Mississippi.
"I thought Luis was very good because he got to both sides of the plate with his fastball," said Bulldogs head coach John Cohen. "Pollorena and Caleb Reed pitched brilliantly."
Pollorena did a great job of pitching to contact, said Cohen, allowing his defense to excel behind the young starter. The Bulldogs recorded 13 outs on the infield in Pollorena's six innings on the mound.
"I was trying to get to both sides of the plate today and just stay low. Sometimes I missed but the wind helped," said Pollorena. "Our defense was unbelievable."
The Bulldogs scored in the first inning on a Nick Vickerson RBI double. Brent Brownlee drove in two more in the sixth with a single up the middle on a drawn-in infield. Those three runs were more than enough for Pollorena and Reed, who combined for an eight hit shutout.
With the win, Mississippi State moves forward to Saturday in the winner"s bracket to face Austin Peay, the No. 4 seed that advanced after an upset of Georgia Tech. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. on CSS.
"Whomever we play tomorrow will be a tremendous challenge," said Cohen. "Every step our program makes helps. We've got a whole lot of freshmen, and everything they get to experience because of these older guys is just huge. That's how you build a program."
Cohen announced late Friday that the Bulldogs would send freshman Evan Mitchell to the mound Saturday.