Mississippi State allowed ten runs in the final inning to lose to Morehead State 13-8.

The threat of heavy rains and the existence of a steady drizzle pushed first pitch back for over an hour, but Mississippi State and Morehead State were able to get in their non-conference tilt. Before the night was over, the Bulldogs may have preferred the rain out rather than the painful loss to the visiting Eagles, 13-8.

Morehead State would go to work early on Bulldog starter, junior right hander Jacob Billingsley. Eagle lead off hitter Ryan Kent would line a pitch into center to open the frame. After a walk to Hunter Fain and a ground out from left fielder Niko Hulsizer, Reid Leonard would rip a single into right field to drive in Kent and give the visitors an early 1-0 lead. 

In the bottom half of the inning, State center fielder Jake Mangum would lead off the home half by turning a would be infield single into a double as the ball evaded the Morehead left side. Mangum would advance to third courtesy of well placed bunt off of the bat of Ryan Gridley. Gridley would later steal second bringing first baseman Cole Gordon to bat with two men in scoring position. Gordon would strikeout to end the Bulldog threat. 

State would tie the game in the bottom of the third inning when Luke Alexander hit an absolute bomb deep into the Left Field Lounge. The shot to left center nearly cleared the rain soaked rigs. The inning opening hit would be the only real damage for the Diamond Dawgs. The frame would end on a tailor made double play ball to short stop that cleared the bases and sent State back out on defense even for the first time since the first inning.

The Bulldogs would rally again in the bottom of the 5th inning getting back to back singles from freshmen Dustin Skelton and Brant Blaylock. With two men aboard, Mangum would fly out to right to end the Maroon and White uprising.

After giving up a pair of hits in the first inning, Billingsley would settle down and limit the Eagles to just a pair of safeties over the next three innings, but the fifth would prove to be another challenge from the visitors. 

The Eagles would get the lead off man aboard after he leaned into a Billingsley offering. The play brought Mississippi State head coach Andy Cannizaro out of the Bulldog dugout for a conversation, but to no avail. Eli Boggess would later score on a Braxton Morris single to give Morehead State a 2-1 lead.

State would answer in the bottom half of the fifth. Brent Rooker would work the count for a two out walk and Gordon would send a two run shot just over the right center field fence to give the Diamond Dawgs their first lead of the evening. With the parting shot from Gordon, Morehead State starter Dalton Stambaugh saw his work day come to a close.

Eagle reliever Alex Gambrick was greeted rather rudely as Tanner Poole sent a shot deep into the Starkville night on an 0-1 pitch to bring the State lead to 4-2.

"Offensively we came out and swung it well against some quality arms from Morehead State," Cannizaro said. "We put together good at bats and we put together 15 hits and eight runs. We left a couple of runs out there that we could have gotten earlier in the game. We battled and battled and came back and took a lead."

Reliever Jacob Barton would take over for Billingsley to start the 6th inning and drama shortly followed. A single and a walk would put the tying runs on base with no outs. A mound visit from State pitching coach Gary Henderson yielded immediate results as Barton coaxed a double play out of Tyler Niemann. A routine ground ball to Stovall and a short toss to Gordon would end the threat.

State would add to their lead with two outs in the 6th thanks to a slicing double from Mangum and another moon shoot from Alexander. As the sophomore from Belmont rounded the bases, the small smattering of fans in attendance roared their approval.

The Eagles would battle back and bring the tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh,but could only plate one. The earned run was charged to Barton, while the hit was charged to Spencer Price who entered the game with two men on and one out. 

State would tack on two more in the 8th and build their biggest lead of the ball game at 8-3.

The Eagles would not go quietly in the 9th. Morehead State would load the bases and score a pair after closer Blake Smith walked in two runs. A double to left plated two more and Smith was lifted for left hander Trey Jolly.

Jolly would enter the game with two men in scoring position and just one out. His first pitch was drilled under a diving Elih Marrero at second and two runs scored giving Morehead State a 9-8 lead. A comeback in the 9th seemed improbable with the Eagles beginning the rally with a pair of pinch hitters to open the final inning, but before it was all told the Eagles had scored 10 in the inning and led 13-8.

"I'm still trying to find the right words to describe what that was," Cannizaro said. "It just wasn't very good. You go into the inning with an 8-3 lead with some veteran guys on the mound that you expect to be able to get people out. 

"Clearly tonight wasn't our night. The last inning certainly did not go our way. We have a lot of questions that we need answered. We'll get back after it again tomorrow."

Smith, one of five Bulldog pitchers in the 9th, was tagged with the loss, while Morehead State reliever Cable Wright earned his first victory. Mississippi State was led offensively by Alexander and Mangum who had three hits a piece.

Mississippi State is back in action this weekend with another four game series against non-conference opponents. Marist and Indiana State will take part in the three team weekend set. Left hander Konnor Pikington is set to start on Friday, while the rest of the starting pitching plans are still being finalized. 


Gene's Page Top Stories