STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Gunner Glad had his go-ahead, solo homer robbed by Mississippi State left-fielder Brent Brownlee in the top of the ninth inning and Connor Powers hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, powering MSU to a 4-3 walk-off win over Kentucky, in front of 10,555 fans at Dudy Noble Field.
Glad, who leads UK with six homers, appeared to give Kentucky a one-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, but Brownlee skied at the wall in left-center field, snagging the would-be home run and electrifying the season-high crowd in Starkville, the 23rd all-time 10,000 or more crowd at Dudy Noble Field. The drama-filled Saturday contest was the second consecutive game that the two teams went to extra innings, as UK edged the Bulldogs in 11 innings with a 5-4 win Friday night, the then largest crowd of the season for the Bulldogs, 6,926.
After UK stranded two runners on base in the top of the 10th inning, Powers got a 3-1 offering from Kentucky reliever Logan Darnell to lead off the bottom of the 10th, cranking it to the deepest part of the park, his team-best 12th home run of the season.
Kentucky (20-17, 5-12 Southeastern Conference) left a total of 13 runners on base in the game, most notably in the seventh inning when UK had the bases loaded with one out and the game tied 3-3, but an inning-ending double play thwarted Kentucky’s best scoring chance.
UK’s sophomore second baseman Chris Bisson was the only run producer for the Wildcats, going 3-for-4 with three RBI and a walk, extending his hitting streak to a team-best seven games, with all seven games coming in multi-hit performances. Freshman lead-off man Chad Wright also contributed a 2-for-5 game, scoring two runs.
Darnell (3-3) suffered the loss, allowing the decisive home run from Powers in the 10th, despite hurling a scoreless bottom of the ninth. UK starter Chris Rusin battled throughout the game but two errors played major factors in the game, as MSU got three of its four runs in the two innings that the Wildcats committed errors. UK’s multi-error game was its first since the South Carolina game on March 28. Rusin hurled 7.1 innings, allowing seven hits, three runs – two earned – walking three and striking out eight.
Mississippi State (20-19, 6-11 SEC) freshman lefty Nick Routt got the start for MSU, going six innings, allowing seven hits, three runs and striking out eight. Chad Crosswhite and Jared Wesson combined to shut down the UK offense over the final four innings, with Wesson improving to 2-0 on the year. Wesson tossed 2.2 scoreless innings to close out the game, striking out two and issuing one walk.
The series will wrap up with the finale Sunday, slated for 2:30 p.m. ET. UK will send starting pitcher Alex Meyer to the mound, with MSU yet to announce a starter. The game can be heard live on the Big Blue Sports Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM and in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM.
UK got on the board first, taking an early 1-0 lead on a hit and a MSU error in the third inning. After Routt got the first two UK hitters to strikeout, Wright ripped the first pitch he saw from Routt to the Mississippi State shortstop, Ryan Powers, who bobbled the ball and it got under his legs for an error. Andy Burns got hit by his second pitch of the year and Bisson extended his hitting streak to a team-high seven games with an RBI single up the middle scoring Wright. Glad struck out swinging to end the inning.
Mississippi State took the lead with two runs on a costly UK error. Connor Powers led off with a walk, the first issued by Rusin, and Nick Hardy reached on a fielder’s choice, with Powers out at second on a nice play by Rusin. Jet Butler put two on with a single through the left side of the infield and Jason Nappi got hit by a pitch to load the bases. Rusin did what he needed to do, getting Ryan Powers to pop up to Chris Wade at shortstop. With a 1-2 count, Rusin got soft contact from Brent Brownlee, who chopped the ball to Burns at third base, but Burns throw sailed over the head of Glad at first base, allowing two unearned runs to score.
UK got the run back in the top of the fifth, evening the game at 2-2. Bryan Rose led off with a single into right field, moving to second on Wright’s sacrifice bunt. After Burns struck out swinging and Rose moved to third on a wild pitch, Bisson notched his seventh straight multi-hit game, scoring Rose with an infield single.
In the seventh inning, Kentucky mounted an impressive rally and took a 1-0 lead, despite an inning-ending double play that ended a bases-loaded threat. Wright got the frame started with an infield single and Burns singled through the left side. Bisson notched his third RBI of the game in as many at bats, singling up the middle to score Wright. After pinch hitter Cory Farris drew a walk to load the bases, Wade went to the plate swinging at the first pitch, grounding into his team-high fourth double play of the year, ending the UK threat.
Mississippi State got a run in the bottom of the seventh to even up the game, taking advantage of another UK error. Grant Hogue led off with his fifth double of the year, a first-pitch blast off the wall in left field. The next hitter, Scott DeLoach, attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt, with the ball going back to Rusin towards the third-base line. Rusin attempted to get the speedy Hogue at third, but his throw to Burns sailed into the outfield, allowing Hogue to score. Rusin responded getting the next three hitters and get out of the jam.
UK appeared to get the go-ahead run on a solo home run from Glad in the top of the ninth inning, but Brownlee, the MSU left fielder skied over the wall in left-center field, robbing Glad of his seventh home run and the go-ahead run.
The game ended with Powers’ 12th homer of the year, a walk-off blast to center field on a 3-1 offering from Darnell. The walk-off loss was the first for UK on the year and the first since Ole Miss turned the trick in the 2008 SEC Tournament.