Konnor Pilkington will finally get his chance on the mound Saturday in the Hattiesburg Regional, but not against the opponent he was expecting.
Mississippi State (36-25) will play Illinois-Chicago (39-16) at 1 p.m. on Saturday in an elimination game at Pete Taylor Park in the Hattiesburg Regional.
MSU coach Andy Cannizaro's decision hold Pilkington for the second day of competition backfired a bit in a 6-3 loss to South Alabama on the opening day of regional play in Hattiesburg.
Gordon, who had been throwing well lately, struggled badly against a potent South Alabama lineup. He gave up a home run to former D'Iberville standout Dylan Hardy on the first pitch of the game, the first of three runs in the first inning.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Sun Herald
Gordon lasted just two innings, walking the bases loaded in the third before he was removed. He gave up three runs on three hits, striking out two and walking five.
Cannizaro said after the game that he had no regrets about going with Gordon of his lefty ace.
MSU will rely on Pilkington, a former East Central standout, to keep the Bulldogs alive in Hattiesburg on Saturday.
"I'm really confident he's going to come out and throw strikes," Cannizaro said. "He's going to throw his fastball over the plate. His breaking ball and changeup have gotten better as the season has progressed. He's our best starting pitcher and we expect him to come out tomorrow and pitch a very mature game.
"We just expect for him to put us on his back tomorrow and extend our season and do everything he can to help us continue playing in the tournament."
Former Indian stands out
Biloxi product Cody Brown had a nice day at the plate in a losing effort, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and one scored.
He gave the Bulldogs a spark in the sixth inning, lifting a drive off the wall in left center for an RBI triple.
"I was looking for a fastball," Brown. "I worked the count to get a pitch up in the zone. I wanted to put something in the gap and get something going for the team."
It was the third triple of the season for Brown, who started at third base Friday night.
Brown's batting average climbed to .305 with 43 runs scored and and 34 RBIs.
Brown thinks his team is a good spot with Pilkington on the mound against the Flames of UIC.
"I'm very confident in that guy every time he goes out," Brown said. "I'm expecting a great start out of him. He'll fill up the strike zone for us. I love playing behind that guy. He's going to fill up the zone and give us opportunities to make plays behind him."