Patience paid off for the Mississippi State baseball team Thursday morning.
After missing out on several scoring opportunities early, No. 5 seed MSU scored twice in the ninth inning to defeat No. 4 seed Arkansas 4-3 in the final game of the second round of the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. The win was the Bulldogs’ 22nd in come-from-behind fashion.
MSU advances to face top-seeded Florida at 11 a.m. Friday.
In the MSU ninth inning, Ryan Gridley singled and Brent Rooker doubled to bring home the game-tying run. Jake Mangum singled back to the pitcher on a bunt attempt. Hunter Stovall reached as a hit batsman. Former Biloxi standout Cody Brown then drew a bases-loaded walk to force in the go-ahead run.
“There is no quit in this team,” Rooker said. “We don’t have as much experience as some of the teams, but we have a lot of heart. We grind out games and grind out wins. This is what we do best. Nobody gets down. We just keep working.”
Arkansas built a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a Luke Bonfield two-run home run. The Razorbacks stretched the lead an inning later on an RBI-double by Jack Kenley.
The Bulldogs got on the board in the sixth inning when Brown doubled and Elijah MacNamee ripped an RBI-single. In the eighth inning, an error and hit batsman opened the door, but the Bulldogs scored only once on a groundball out.
Denver McQuary drew the start and worked four innings for the Bulldogs. McQuary allowed three hits and three earned runs, with two strikeouts and five walks. Peyton Plumlee (6-1) threw four innings of two-hit shutout relief to get the win.
Riley Self overcame a two-out walk to complete his sixth save.
“This was a great win for our kids,” MSU assistant coach Gary Henderson said. “We were down 3-0 after two. Even though it was not super clean on the bases, we did a lot of things well. We pitched it well and got some great defensive plays.”
MSU had 12 hits but stranded 12 base runners. MacNamee had three hits, while Gridley and Rooker each had two hits.