Super Bulldog Weekend didn’t start off as the Mississippi State baseball team would have hoped Friday night.
No. 13 Kentucky scored three times in the ninth inning to nip No. 22 MSU 5-2 in the opening game of a three-game Southeastern Conference series at Dudy Noble Field.
Kentucky improved to 22-9 overall and 8-2 in league play, maintaining sole possession of first place in the Eastern Division. MSU saw a six-game conference win streak snapped, while falling to 20-12 and 6-4.
Five MSU pitchers combined to hold Kentucky to three hits with 11 strikeouts. However, nine walks and four wild pitches would prove to be the undoing of the Bulldogs.
“This was a tremendous college baseball game between two good teams,” head coach Andy Cannizaro said. “The atmosphere was great. Kentucky comes in leading the league in almost every offensive category and we held them to three hits. We had chances late in the game offensively and our at-bats weren’t very good in pressure situations.
“The game was there to be won. We didn’t grab the victory. We played even with them but we didn’t do anything to go out there and win the game.”
MSU scored first with a lone run in the first inning. Jake Mangum led off the at-bat with a double and later scored on a passed ball. The Bulldogs hoped to add more, but a double play ended the frame.
Kentucky pulled even in the fifth inning. The Wildcats had two walks, a hit batsman and two sacrifices in that at-bat. The Wildcats scored in the seventh inning when a pair of two-out walks preceded an RBI-single by Tristan Pompey.
In the home half of the seventh inning, the Bulldogs pulled even when Biloxi’s Cody Brown hit an inside-the-park home run misplayed by the UK left fielder.
In the ninth inning, the Wildcats broke on top with a two-run, two-out triple by Zach Reks. Both runners who scored reached on walks. Reks then come home on a wild pitch.
The Bulldogs were retired in order in the bottom of the ninth inning.
MSU finished with four hits. Brown was the lone multiple hitter for either team.
MSU starter Konnor Pilkington, a former East Central High star, threw 6.2 innings, allowing one hits and two runs (both earned), with seven strikeouts and six walks. Riley Self, Trysten Barlow, Spencer Price and Trey Jolly also pitched.
Barlow (0-1) worked 1.2 innings while taking the loss.