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No. 13 MSU baseball team clinches series at South Carolina


From Special Reports



COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The No. 13 Mississippi State baseball team scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning to beat No. 17 South Carolina 5-4 in Game 2 of a three-game Southeastern Conference series at Founders Park. 


Coupled with a 7-4 win Friday night, MSU clinched its first series win at South Carolina since the 1998 season. The Bulldogs have won 10 of their last 11 conference games, while taking four-straight conference series. 


MSU improved to 25-12 and 10-4 in the SEC with a fifth-straight win. South Carolina fell to 21-13 and 7-7. 


"That was an outstanding win," MSU coach Andy Cannizaro said. "This game was about confidence. After winning last night, we had more confidence. We have been getting some really great production out of the bullpen. I am really excited about how those guys have come in and thrown strikes." 


MSU scored first in the third inning when Luke Alexander hit his fourth home run of the season. The Bulldogs are second in the conference with 39 home runs this season. 


South Carolina answered with a two-run home run by Carlos Cortes in the home half of the third inning to take a 2-1 advantage. 


The Bulldogs tied the game in the seventh. Cody Brown reached on an error and came home on a pinch-hit double by Hunter Vansau. 


The score remained deadlocked until the ninth, when Ryan Gridley, Cody Brown, and Vansau singled to load the bases with nobody out. 


USC went to the bullpen, ending the day for starter Wil Crowe (3-3). Crowe allowed seven hits and five runs (four earned). He walked three and struck out four. Colie Bowers entered in relief. A ground ball out brought home Gridley, while a wild pitch scored Brown. Hunter Stovall followed with a critical two-out RBI-single. A runner was put out at the plate on that hit but the damage had been done. 


The early home run would be the only damper on a strong start by Cole Gordon. Gordon threw four innings and allowed five hits and two runs (both earned). He struck out two.  


Jacob Barton, Trysten Barlow, and Trey Jolly (2-1) combined four innings of scoreless relief. In the ninth, Spencer Price surrendered a two-run home run to Cortes but then got back-to-back outs for his 13th save. 


"I really can't say enough about what our relief pitchers have been doing," Cannizaro said. "Cole gave us exactly what we wanted in his start. When we get to the ballpark, we tell the guys we are going to try to put something together and to be ready. They just continue to pitch, challenge hitters and get outs." 


MSU had eight hits, including multi-hit games by Brown and Vansau. 


South Carolina had eight hits, including three hits and four RBIs from Cortes. T.J. Hopkins and Jacob Olson also had multiple hits. 


n On Friday, No. 13 MSU used a four-run second inning and a strong start from Konnor Pilkington to earn a 7-4 win. 


The Bulldogs won the series opener for the third time in five conference weekends. 


"It is so hard to win any game in this league, let alone a Friday night game on the road," Cannizaro said. "We knew the five runs early would be huge. Brent Rooker got us started like he always does. (South Carolina pitcher) Clarke Schmidt was outstanding. We knew once he got settled in, it would be tough." 


Pilkington (3-3) allowed six hits and four runs (two earned) in six innings. He walked one and struck out seven. Riley Self followed with 2 1/3 innings to set up Price, who recorded two outs for his 12th save. 


Rooker hit his 16th home run to start the scoring in the first. The Bulldogs expanded the lead with four scores in the second. 


Elijah MacNamee started things with a leadoff single in the second. After a sacrifice by Josh Lovelady, Tanner Poole walked. Alexander hit into a fielder's choice that loaded the bases. Stovall and Gridley cashed in with a pair of two-run singles. 


"We just talked about having quality at-bats," Cannizaro said. "When you face an outstanding pitcher and Schmidt will be making a lot of money soon, you have to stay patient. You can't try to do too many things at one time. We really had some quality at-bats in the second inning and had some good fortune there in the end." 


Schmidt (4-1) settled in from there. He worked eight innings and allowed five hits and five runs (two earned). He walked one and struck out 11 strikeouts. Schmidt retired the final 19 batters he faced. 


South Carolina put together five hits and capitalized on two errors to score four times in the seventh. Left fielder Brown had a putout at the plate to end that threat. 


MSU scored two runs on a dropped fly ball in the ninth. MacNamee doubled and Lovelady reached on a sacrifice. Both scored on the ball hit by Stovall. 


Jake Mangum and MacNamee had multiple hits for the Bulldogs. 


Alex Destino had three of South Carolina's nine hits. 


MSU will go for the sweep at 3 p.m. today (SEC Network). 


n No. 9 LSU edges Ole Miss Over No. 8 LSU: At Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the Rebels had the tying run at second base in the top of the ninth inning, but the No. 9 Tigers held on to win the series at Alex Box Stadium. 


LSU (25-12, 9-6) used a leaping catch in shallow right field to prevent the comeback by Ole Miss (22-14, 7-8). 


Tate Blackman homered for the third time in two games to increase his season total to five, tying Colby Bortles for the team high. Nick Fortes knocked in the Rebels' other run to increase his reached base streak to eight games, while Will Golsan recorded his team-leading 11th multi-hit game of the year in a 2-for-4 showing. Ryan Olenek remained the Ole Miss leader in doubles with his 12th of the season. The Rebels equaled the Tigers in hits as each team totaled eight apiece. 


In a battle between two freshmen on the mound, Ryan Rolison (4-2) suffered the loss by allowing three runs (two earned) in 5 1/3 innings. Will Stokes retired all five hitters he faced in 1 2/3 innings. Dallas Woolfolk put together another scoreless relief appearance. 


Josh Smith went 2-for-4 with the game-winning RBI to lead the Tigers. Greg Deichmann added a solo home run, and Eric Walker (5-0) earned the win by throwing 6 2/3 innings. 


LSU took advantage of two Rebel miscues to score the first run in the second. Two hits and an error put runners on the corners, but Rolison issued a pop-up for the second out of the inning. The freshman forced another groundball, but Blackman bobbled it at second which allowed a run to cross the plate. However, the Ole Miss second baseman made up for his mistake in the next inning. With two outs, Blackman hit a liner that cleared the fence in right field to square the game. The Tigers countered with a two-out home run in the bottom half of the third. Deichmann's solo shot reclaimed the lead for LSU, 2-1. 


Rolison threw back-to-back scoreless innings to keep the game within a run going into the sixth. Grae Kessinger led off the inning with a chopper over the third baseman's head. Not slowing down, the shortstop slid safely into second to leg out a leadoff double. Blackman hit a flyball deep enough to right field that moved Kessinger closer to home. However, with the infield in, Golsan smoked a line drive that found an LSU mitt. On the sharply hit ball, Kessinger was caught off the bag at third as the double play ended the inning with the Tigers still ahead. 


LSU added a run in the bottom of the sixth courtesy of a double to right field and a single up the middle. The consecutive hits ended Rolison's day, but Stokes came out of the bullpen to finish the inning and limit the damage. 


The Rebels immediately got the run back in the seventh. Olenek roped an opposite-field double before scoring on a two-out single by Fortes. Another hit by Cole Zabowski forced Walker out of the game, but the move on the mound kept LSU in front, 3-2. 


Ole Miss recorded a pair of hits in the eighth, but LSU once again escaped the inning without allowing a run and holding on to the lead. Woolfolk pitched a scoreless frame to give the Rebels one last chance at the lone-run deficit. Tim Rowe used patience at the plate to draw a five-pitch walk before the speedy Kyle Watson replaced him on the base path. Fortes followed by placing a perfect bunt in front of home plate to move the tying run into scoring position. Then, with two outs, Seamster lifted a ball that looked like it would fall into shallow right field to score Watson. However, LSU second baseman Cole Freeman jumped and hauled in the catch as he fell to the ground, keeping the Rebels inches away from tying the contest. 


n On Friday, a leadoff home run by Blackman set the tone and lifted Ole Miss to a 4-1 win. 


The season high in home runs and consistent pitching helped the Rebels even the series with the Tigers. 


Blackman hit two of the solo home runs. He added a second solo home run in the sixth. The Ole Miss second baseman doubled his season total and has four. Colby Bortles and Nick Fortes added home runs in the fourth inning. Bortles recorded his team-leading fifth of the season, while Fortes smacked his second of the year. 


David Parkinson (5-2) limited LSU to one run on six hits and no walks in 6 1/3 innings. Will Ethridge and Dallas Woolfolk (seven) combined to toss 2 2/3 scoreless frames. 


Ole Miss hit all four of its homers off starting pitcher Jared Poche (6-2), who allowed five hits and one walk in seven innings. Nick Coomes and Josh Smith had two hits. 


Ole Miss will play host to Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Swayze Field. 


n Alabama loses series finale to Texas A&M: At Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the Crimson Tide scored one run in the bottom of the ninth but lost to the Aggies 3-2 on Saturday in the series finale at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. 


Alabama slipped to 14-22 and 2-13 in the SEC. 


"I'm really proud of the way or guys went out there today and competed," Alabama coach Greg Goff said. "I love the resiliency of these players and what they're doing. I thought those were the best two-strike at-bats (in the ninth inning) we've had all year with Cobie (Vance) and Chandler (Taylor)." 


Facing a 3-1 deficit entering the final half inning, Alabama used a one-out double from Chandler Avant to start the ninth-inning rally. After advancing to third on a groundout, Avant came across to score on a wild pitch. Cobie Vance extended the ninth with a two-out single to right before Chandler Taylor walked to put runners at first and second. A swinging strikeout ended the game. 


Senior Nick Eicholtz threw six innings of scoreless baseball. He limited the Aggies to one hit and walked four walks. He struck out a season-high six. Eicholtz cruised through the middle innings, retiring 12 in order and recording 13 consecutive outs at one point before working himself out of a jam in the sixth. In that inning, Eicholtz had runners on the corners with one down before getting a huge strikeout followed by a lineout to end the A&M threat. 


"Nick's start today was a big plus for us," Goff said. "He's fought through some injuries and hasn't had the start to this season that he wanted to, but he told me last week that he was going to finish strong. I'm just really proud of the way he continues to go out there, compete and give our team the chance to win." 


Alabama struck first, using a two-out rally to score a run in the bottom of the first. Vance singled to left and scored on a double from Chandler Taylor. 


Both teams went scoreless for the next five frames as the two starting pitchers battled. Texas A&M grabbed the lead in the top of the seventh with a three-run inning. A two-out single followed by a walk placed runners on first and second for the Aggies before a three-run home run put A&M in front, 3-1, heading to the stretch. 


n On Friday, Texas A&M used a four-run third to take Game 2 8-2. 


"Their guy (Corbin Martin) was very good tonight," Goff said. "He was dominant, and his fastball was coming out of his hand pretty good. That's the kind of guy that this league is full of. There are going to be nights where you run into those guys, and I thought he had really good stuff. I just thought that he beat us tonight." 


Martin (4-2) allowed one run in seven innings. The right-hander allowed four hits and two walks while striking out five. 


Crimson Tide starter Dylan Duarte (2-3) was chased after 4 1/3 innings. Zac Rogers, Mike Oczypok, and Sam Finnerty combined to hold the Aggies to one run in the final 4 2/3 innings. 


​Vance went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI to lead Alabama. Avant, Taylor, and Walker McCleney also had hits. Avant had an RBI. Avant and Vance extended their hitting streaks. Avant has hit in nine-straight game, while Vance has hit in eight-straight games. 


Alabama will play host to Alcorn State at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. 


n Rice beats No. 21 Southern Mississippi: At Houston, the Owls scored four runs in the second and fifth innings en route to an 11-4 victory against the Golden Eagles in Game 2 of a Conference USA series at Reckling Park. 


Southern Miss (27-9, 11-3 C-USA) had a string of seven-straight road league games and a nine-game true road game winning streak snapped in the setback. 


Tristan Gray led Rice (13-24, 4-10) with four hits, while Charlie Warren, Ryan Chandler, and Darryn Sheppard drove in two runs. 


Matt Wallner had two of the Golden Eagles' eight hits as the team used the long ball to score three-fourths of their runs. 


Down 4-1, Dylan Burdeaux extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a solo home run to left field for his seventh of the year in the fifth. 


The Owls, though, added four more runs in the bottom of the frame to extend their lead to 8-1. 


LeeMarcus Boyd cut the gap to 8-2 with an RBI groundout in the sixth, but Rice again pounded Golden Eagle pitching with three more runs in the seventh. 


Southern Miss closed the gap in the ninth with a two-run home run by pinch hitter Jake Viaene to right. With his blast, all 14 Golden Eagles with an at bat this year has tallied at least one homer. 


Zach Esquivel (3-4) kept Southern Miss in check for five-plus innings. He allowed two runs on five hits and walked four. He struck out four. Willy Amador pitched the final four innings and allowed two runs on three hits. He walked three and struck out one to garner his first save. 


Golden Eagle starter Hayden Roberts (4-2) allowed six runs on eight hits. He walked two and struck out five. Southern Miss used five pitchers in the contest. 


n On Friday, No. 21 Southern Miss exploded for 10 runs in the final two innings to defeat Rice 15-4. 


The Golden Eagles won their seventh consecutive road conference game and their ninth true road game. 


Burdeaux had three of the Golden Eagles' 14 hits as he drove in three runs and extended his hitting streak to 12 games, including 11 multi-hit affairs during this stretch. Cole Donaldson and Boyd added two hits. 


Kirk McCarty (6-2), who has struck out 30 and hasn't walked a batter in his last four starts (28 innings), scattered seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. He gave up four runs and struck out eight. 


Rice starter Matt Canterino (2-4) allowed five runs (three earned) on five hits. He walked four and struck out seven. 


The teams will play the deciding game of the series at 1 p.m. today. 


Junior Colleges 


n EMCC splits doubleheader with Hinds C.C.: At Scooba, the East Mississippi Community College baseball team held on for an 8-7 win in Game 1 of a doubleheader Friday at Gerald Poole Field. Hinds C.C. won the nightcap 9-2. 


Whitt Davis, Marcus Ragan, Armani Lewis, and Orrion Bailey had two hits in Game 1 for the Lions (17-13, 7-9 Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges). 


In the ninth inning, Hinds C.C. loaded the bases on successive singles with one out. After Braedon Barrett's ground ball scored a run, EMCC closer Eli Leathers came in to preserve the victory and secure his fifth save. Sophomore right-hander Alex Knight (3-1) allowed nine hits in five innings to get the victory. 


EMCC has only five hits in Game 2. Davis' two-out single in the fifth and Austin Lowther's sacrifice fly accounted for EMCC's runs. 


EMCC will play host to Meridian C.C. at 4 p.m. Wednesday in a doubleheader. 




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