On another wild night which saw another extra inning game in Hoover, #17 Mississippi State (37-21) saw their magic in the SEC Tournament disappear going falling to Kentucky (35-22) in 12 innings, 7-6.
The Bulldogs lost a three run lead and saw the game go back and forth after that before Kentucky grabbed their first and most important lead of the game in the bottom of the 12th
MSU looked to have the first punch in the third inning as Wes Rea started things off with a single off the glove of the second baseman. The big man followed that up with a steal of second and a bunt moved him to third with just one outs. State would get a strikeout and groundout and nothing out of it as the game was scoreless in the third.
After a 1-2-3 bottom of the third, the Bulldogs finally capitalized. Brett Pirtle led off the inning with a base hit and was moved to second on a fielder's choice. After a Gavin Collins walk, Cody Brown hit into a fielder's choice himself putting runners at the corners and two outs. A wild pitch moved two in scoring position and another one scored Pirtle to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. Though the Bulldogs left the bases loaded, they took the 1-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth.
With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Mitchell left a ball up that Micheal Thomas crushed over the left field wall for a solo home run that tied the game. It was the first run surrendered by Mitchell in 25-straight innings and his first home run given up all year. He worked around that with consecutive grounders.
State answered that home run with a clutch top of the fifth as C.T. Bradford started things off with a single but it looked as if he would end up stranded at second. That's when Seth Heck came up big with a single into center to give the Bulldogs the lead back at 2-1. Collins followed that up with a single and he and Heck were advanced in scoring position with a balk. Brown then beat out a single at first base scoring a run to give State the 3-1 lead.
After another scoreless inning from Mitchell, the Bulldogs went back to work with singles from Rea and Matthew Britton to start the inning. A bunt moved both into scoring position and Brown recorded his second RBI of the night with a sac fly putting State out in front 4-1.
Kentucky would get back in it quickly in the sixth as Mitchell began to unravel in a big way. Kentucky started the inning with a walk from A.J. Reed, an RBI double and a single. A sac fly was the first out of the inning but scored a run making the game 4-3, Bulldogs. A hard hit ball on a tight infield went off the glove of Heck for an RBI single and that tied things up at 4. After the fourth hit surrendered in the inning, Mitchell was finally lifted in favor of Ben Bracewell with two on and just one out. The senior leader out of the bullpen got the job done inducing two groundouts but the damage was done and there was a new game at 4-4.
State kept their bats hot, however. For the fifth-straight inning, the Bulldogs got a lead off hit as Heck reached followed by a single through the left side from Collins. After a walk loaded the bases, Demarcus Henderson grounded into a 6-4-3 double play scoring a run from third and State had the 5-4 lead going to the bottom of the seventh.
The offensive game continued in the bottom of the inning after Bracewell walked a batter, gave up a single and walked another to load the bases with just one out. That did Bracewell in as he would trot to the dugout and freshman Vance Tatum entered the game to try and get MSU out of a jam. On a 2-2 count, Tatum got MSU out of that jam with a 6-4-3 double play and the Bulldogs kept their lead at 5-4.
After a quick 1-2-3 inning by the Bulldogs, Kentucky was right back on the grind. A lead off walk started things off and that was followed by a double to put two in scoring position and nobody out bringing in closer Jonathan Holder. They got the out they were looking for but on a ground out that tied the game at five and moved a runner to third with just one out. Holder would get a strikeout looking and flyout to end the threat and MSU kept the game tied at five heading to the ninth.
State kept the fun going in the ninth as Pirtle reached on an infield single and saw it turn into two on an error on a bad throw. After a sac bunt, the freshman catcher Collins came through again with an RBI single for his fourth hit of the night. State went up 6-5 heading to the bottom of the final inning.
Kentucky wouldn't go away quietly, however, as Reed started the inning with a pop fly double and a wild pitch moved a man to third with no outs. After a wild pitch from Holder, he got a fly out that led to the tying run at 6-6 with just one out. After another single, Holder settled in and retired the next two but MSU was heading to extras for the second time in three days.
State again got the offense going in the top of the 10th as Alex Detz entered and reached on an error. He was replaced by Derrick Armstrong to run which turned out to be key. After a Rea pop out, Britton singled through the right side pushing Armstrong all the way to third and runners were at the corners and one out. On a flyout in center, Armstrong came home and appeared to slide in safe but was called out to end the inning at 6-6.
Kentucky again put MSU in a bind with a lead off single and a one out HBP. A strikeout was out number two but Kentucky loaded the bases on an infield single bringing up Thomas Bernal.
The game got even more wild in the top of the 12th when Brown singled up the middle with one out. On a throw to first base, the ball got away moving Brown to second. He kept running and Kentucky tried to throw him out at third but he reached safely. Armstrong hit one right back towards the middle and Brown was tagged at the plate. Rea struck out to end the inning and it remained tied.
Kentucky would end it at the bottom of the inning starting things off with a lead off double. A wild pitch moved a runner to third and Preston Brown loaded the bases on intentional walks. A one-out infield single would end it and the Bulldogs were forced into the elimination game on Friday against Florida.
Bulldog News and Notes:
The Bulldogs weren't scared to take a chance early sending big Wes Rea on a hit and run and he slid into second knocking the glove off of the fielder for the steal. It was the first career steal in three attempts for Rea.
C.T. Bradford started the top of the fifth slapping a single into left field. It moved his season-long hitting streak to 12 games, tying a career high. When Bradford leads off the lineup, the Bulldogs are now 7-1.
Seth Heck's first hit of the night was a big one putting MSU back up 2-1 with an RBI single with two outs in the fifth. Heck is now in a team-leading 18-game hitting streak. He got another hit in the seventh to record his 14th multi-hit game against SEC competition and 17th overall.
Gavin Collins stroked the ball on Thursday night with four hits and a walk including the game-winning RBI single in the top of the ninth. It was his fourth three-hit game of the year, but the four hits were a career high.
Brett Pirtle led off the fourth inning with a single and has now reached safely in all 63 games against SEC opponents in his career. He led off the top of the ninth with a lead-off single to get his second hit of the game. It was the 19th multi-hit game of the year.
State got the first run of the game in the fourth inning. The Bulldogs have gotten the first run in all three games during the tournament.
MSU led off the inning with a hit an amazing five-straight times from the third to the sixth inning. They scored the lead-off man four straight times from the fourth-seventh inning. They led-off seven of the 12 innings with a hit and saw the runner score five of those times.
State went to extra innings for the seventh time this season but lost their first game now 7-1 in those games. It was the first time in their tournament history that they've played two extra inning games.