Sophomore left-hander Vance Tatum (3-0) threw the team’s third complete game of the season and the first of his career. Tatum allowed 11 hits and five runs (all earned), with four walks and a strikeout on 125 pitches. Tatum threw seven innings in his first conference start last Sunday against Alabama.
“Vance Tatum is one of those kids who looks forward to challenges,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “This was a big challenge. He was facing a Kentucky lineup which has been swinging it well against us. It wasn’t pretty but it was a win.”
After hitting seven home runs in their first 23 games, the Bulldogs hit six in the three-game series.
The Bulldogs never trailed Sunday. MSU built an early 3-0 lead and then broke a 3-3 tie with six runs in the fifth inning – the biggest output in an inning in a conference game this season.
MSU built the 1-0 lead on an RBI-groundout by Seth Heck in the third inning. The lead grew to 3-0 when Humphreys sliced a two-run shot down the right field line in the fourth inning.
In the decisive fifth inning, Ryan Gridley reached on an infield error. Jacob Robson then beat out a bunt single. Heck followed with a bunt which led to no outs and the bases being loaded.
Gavin Collins followed with a two-run double. After UK’s second error of the inning scored another run, Humphreys slapped his fourth home run of the year – a three-run shot to left center.
That hit ended the day for Kentucky starter Kyle Cody (2-2). Cody pitched four-plus innings, allowing seven hits and nine runs (six earned), with three walks and no strikeouts. Six additional Wildcats pitched.
The Maroon and White added to the lead with a two-run double from Cody Brown in the sixth inning and an RBI-single from Collins in the eighth inning.
MSU then followed with the game’s biggest defensive play in the home half of the eighth inning. With the bases loaded and no outs, Tatum worked out of the jam when Wes Rea snagged a ball at first base and converted the line drive double play.
A popup ended that threat and Tatum worked around two base runners in the ninth inning to close out the win.
MSU finished with a series-best 12 hits. Robson collected a career-best four hits, while Collins had three hits. Brown and Humphreys each had multiple hits. Humphreys had a career-best five RBIs, while Brown and Collins each drove in a career-best three runs.
Kentucky finished with 11 hits. Kyle Barrett had three hits in the game and eight hits in the series for the Wildcats. Ka’ai Tom, Dorian Hairston and Greg Fettes each had two hits for UK.
MSU will take on Southern Mississippi at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Trustmark Park in Pearl. Conference play resumes next weekend when Auburn comes to Dudy Noble Field.