Brandon Turner’s RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday gave Mississippi State a 5-4 win over No. 8 Kentucky and clinched the series for the Bulldogs at Dudy-Noble Field.
The Wildcats (24-4-1, 4-4-1 Southeastern Conference), who were looking to take the series from Mississippi State for the first time since 1999, led the Bulldogs (18-7, 5-4) heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. Turner singled through the left side to begin the inning and advanced to second on a fielder’s choice. First baseman Mitch Moreland launched a two-run home run to right field on the next at-bat to knot the score at 4.
Kentucky was unable to score in its half of the ninth inning as Jason Kipnis opened the frame with a single through the right side and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Howe. Antone DeJesus struck out and Mike Brown flew out to right field to end the Wildcats’ half of the inning. MSU third baseman Connor Powers singled to left on the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth and advanced to third after a pair of ground outs to set up Turner’s heroics.
Moreland (2-0) earned the win for the Bulldogs after moving to the mound from first base to record the final two outs. Troy Ragle (0-1) was a tough-luck loser for the Wildcats, pitching 2/3 of an inning and facing just three batters. He allowed Powers, the go-ahead run, to reach base in the ninth. Kentucky starter Greg Dombrowski pitched 7 1/3 strong innings and received a no-decision after giving up four runs, while striking out six.
First baseman Sawyer Carroll was the offensive leader for the Wildcats, going 3-for-5 at the plate with two RBI and two runs scored. Carroll hit his first career home run in the fourth inning with a two-run round-tripper to put Kentucky on the scoreboard.
Mississippi State struck in the third, as Jeffery Rea reached on a single and came around to score on an RBI double by Turner. A ground out by Moreland plated Turner to give the Bulldogs an early 2-0 advantage.
Kentucky countered in the top of the fourth as Brown singled to center field with two outs and scored on Carroll’s towering shot over the right-field fence to bring the Wildcats even at 2-2.
Kentucky held Mississippi State scoreless over the next four frames, which were highlighted by an impressive catch by center fielder Antone DeJesus in the bottom of the sixth. DeJesus climbed the wall to rob designated hitter Brian LaNinfa of a home run.
The Wildcats took their first lead of the game in the top of the seventh as they loaded the bases with one out. Howe, a pinch hitter inserted into the line-up for designated hitter Brock Wright, connected on a sacrifice fly to left field to give UK a 3-2 lead.
Kentucky took a narrow lead in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with one out. UK’s second out came on a pinch hit Tyler Howe sacrifice fly to plate Brian Spear and give UK a 3-2 lead. The Wildcats extended their advantage to 4-2 in the eighth when Carroll singled to right-center field with one out, advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on Spear’s single to left.
Kentucky returns to action Tuesday when it plays host to Western Carolina, as the teams meet for the first time since the 1998 season. First pitch at Cliff Hagan Stadium is slated for 6:30 p.m. and the game will be carried live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio) with Neil Price.