STARKVILLE, Miss. - Now on a four-match win streak, Mississippi State's 10th-ranked men's tennis crew (15-4, 6-1 SEC) downed the No. 27 Tigers of LSU (11-8, 2-5 SEC) 6-1 in an SEC Western Division matchup on Saturday at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
With the victory, State remained in sole possession of first place in the SEC West and is currently tied for second overall in the league with #3 Georgia and behind #9 Kentucky, who downed UGA 4-3 on Friday.
As doubles play began Saturday, the two SEC West foes were in a quick battle on all courts. With both teams holding serving on court 2, MSU's No. 43 George Coupland and Artem Ilyushin were able to take the break at 3-3 and keep the momentum as they tailed an impressive 8-4 victory over LSU's Olivier Borsos and Tom Knights at No. 2.
In the top spot for MSU was the 32nd-ranked tandem of Louis Cant and Malte Stropp. Falling behind with an early break 3-1, the Bulldog duo would battle back for an 8-4 win over Neal Skupski and Chris Simpson, giving MSU the 1-0 lead.
On court 3, Zach White and Ethan Wilkinson of MSU were in a tight match as LSU's pair of Roger Anderson and James Turberville battled back from down 7-4 to tie it at 7-7. Heading to a tiebreak, the Bulldog tandem would cruise past their Tiger foes 8-7(3).
Swinging to singles action, the Bulldogs would keep the momentum, taking five out of six first sets. The first to finish would be the 15th-ranked Ilyushin as he easily breezed through his 55th-ranked Tiger foe Borsos, 6-2, 6-1 in the top spot, extending MSU's lead to 2-0. Ilyushin has now won 10 of his last 11 matches and is undefeated at 7-0 in the SEC.
Two matches then finished almost simultaneously as State clinched the team win. MSU's 46th-ranked Coupland finished a two-setter on court 5 for the Bulldogs, downing Stefan Szacinski of LSU 6-2, 6-3. The match clincher came from the No. 3 position where 67th-ranked Stropp battled to down No. 98 Simpson of LSU 6-4, 6-1.
MSU's 44th-ranked senior Cant took a breezy first set 6-0 from Turberville but the second would prove much more difficult. As the two battled back and forth, Cant was able to a take a break and serve for the match 6-0, 7-5, extending the Bulldog lead to 5-0. The sophomore White of MSU would then fight off Knights as he took the 6-4, 6-4 decision on 6 for State's final point of the afternoon.
The final match of the day was that of MSU's James Chaudry and 73rd-ranked Skupski. Dropping the first set 7-6(2), Chaudry would storm back and take the second 6-4. In a third set super-tiebreaker, however, Skupski would prove too much as he took a 7-6(2), 4-6, 1-0(4) decision for LSU's only point of the day.
The Bulldogs will be back in action on Sunday as they host the 39th-ranked Razorbacks of Arkansas for Senior Day at 1 p.m. CT at the Pitts Tennis Centre. Seniors Cant, Coupland and Ilyushin will be honored.
Live stats will be available at www.hailstate.com. Also, follow @mstateMT on Twitter for live updates.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State Lady Bulldog tennis will take to the road as they face No. 29 Arkansas in Fayetteville at 1 p.m. this Sunday.
The Bulldogs fell 5-2 in a battle against LSU on Friday. Olesya Tsigvintseva and Ekaterina Iakovleva posted MSU's two victories of the day in singles competition. Tsigvintseva defeated LSU's Olivia Howlett 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 on court two. Iakovleva took down Kaitlin Burns of the Lady Tigers 6-1, 6-3 at the No. 3 position.
Arkansas, led by senior Kate Lukomskaya, fell 6-1 in a match against No. 17 Ole Miss on Friday. Tomorrow's match against the Lady Bulldogs completes the Razorbacks home schedule for the season.
Updates for Lady Bulldog tennis can be followed via twitter through @mstateWT.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State had the game-winning run at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but fell to No. 2 Alabama by a 4-2 score Saturday afternoon in front of a capacity crowd at the MSU Softball Stadium. The Bulldogs' overall record moves to 19-17 on the 2012 campaign, including a 3-12 record inside the rugged Southeastern Conference.
"We had a ton of balls hit right at their defense and could not get the little break that we needed," Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. "When you have the winning run at the dish in the bottom of the seventh, you know you are making a rally for it. That is all you can ask for out of your offense."
Leading the way for the MSU hitters was sophomore second baseman Heidi Shape, who tallied two singles in three at-bats. Senior catcher Ka'ili Smith (1-for-3) and redshirt sophomore shortstop Erin Nesbit (0-for-2) drove in runs for State, while senior right fielder Brittany Gates registered a single and a run scored.
In the circle, junior left-handed pitcher Kylie Vry suffered her sixth loss of the season (5-6), giving up all four Alabama runs on six hits and two walks in 3.1 innings of work. Senior lefty Lindsey Dunlap and junior southpaw Stephanie Becker pitched the final 3.2 frames, submitting just one base knock.
After a scoreless first, Alabama drew first blood with a two-run second inning. Designated player Amanda Locke began the frame with a single up the middle, with teammate Jazlyn Lunceford joining her on the basepaths in the ensuing at-bat thanks to a five-pitch walk. Both runners advanced a base when second baseman Danae Hays executed a sacrifice bunt for the first out. With two Alabama baserunners in scoring position, catcher Olivia Gibson was hit by a pitch to load the bases. That set the stage for third baseman Danielle Richard, who hit a sacrifice flyball deep to left, allowing for Locke to tag from third for the game's first run. Following an infield bunt single by left fielder Kayla Braud to fill the bases yet again, the visitors doubled their lead with an infield RBI single by center fielder Jennifer Fenton.
The Bulldogs barked back in the bottom of the second, cutting the deficit in half with one run scored. After Alabama starting pitcher Leslie Jury retired the first two State batters, Gates reached on an error by Tide first baseman Cassie Reilly-Boccia. Gates moved over to second on a walk by fellow outfielder Jessica Offutt and scored on an RBI single to left by Smith.
Using the long ball, the team from Tuscaloosa extended its lead to 4-1 with a solo home run by shortstop Kaila Hunt in the top of the third and a solo shot by Richard in the top of the fourth.
State responded in the bottom of the sixth with another run to cut Alabama's lead to three. Junior left fielder Jessica Cooley led off the inning with a full-count base on balls and then sprinted all the way over to third when teammate Shelby Fisher reached on a fielding error by Hays at second. With runners on the corners, Stuedeman called the safety squeeze, as Nesbit put down a bunt, causing Cooley to break for home and slide in safely.
Down two runs in the bottom of the seventh, MSU fought back to put the game-winning run at the dish with a chance to win the game. Sensing the fight left in the home dugout, Alabama replaced Amanda Locke with All-American pitcher Jackie Traina. Smith started things off for the Maroon and White offense by reaching base on Hunt's third fielding error of the weekend at shortstop. Freshman Ashley Phillips replaced Smith as a pinch runner, but was stranded at the first bag after Traina forced Shape to line out and Shape to strike out. Down to the final out, redshirt senior Brittany Bell kept the game going with a free pass on a full count. With the tying run on first and the walkoff run at the plate, Traina received two called strikes on Cooley, before forcing the Birmingham, Ala., native to swing and miss the third strike to end the game.
Starkville's team wraps up the weekend series Sunday at 1 p.m for its final game of the weekend against Alabama. Admission is free for those that can attend, but for those that cannot, live video and audio streaming of the game will be available online to HailStateTV subscribers (www.HailState.com/hstvlive).
For more information regarding MSU softball, follow the team on Twitter at @MStateSB and like the team at Facebook.com/MStateSB.