Bulldogs lose game four of the weekend, 9-8 to Marist.

Mississippi State hosted Marist in the final game of the four game set in the second weekend of the State season. The Bulldogs now (6-3) would fall to Marist (4-3) by a score of 9-8. State trailed 8-1 at one point, but battled back to within one in the final inning.

Marist would strike early in the first with a pair of lead off singles off of State starter Ryan Cyr. A walk to left fielder Frankie Gregoire would load the bases. A sac fly would plate the first run and a Matt Pagano single would put another Red Fox run on the board.

The side would be retired on a perfect throw from Mississippi State center fielder Jake Mangum to Bulldog backstop Josh Lovelady who did a solid job securing the tag to close the frame.

Marist would go quietly in the second inning, but a lead off walk to Anthony Lazar opened the third. A single to center by Tyler Kapuscinski was mishandled by Mangum allowing both runners to advance into scoring position. A single through Luke Alexander at 3rd made it 3-0 Red Foxes and Cyr's day was done after just two innings of work.

Jacob Billingsley would take over and give up a an RBI single to the first hitter he faced, The second, Pagano, would lay down a safety squeeze and drive in another run. Those two runs were charged to Cyr, but the earned run average was of little concern to the home crowd. 

"They jumped on us right away and I don't think we were ready to play when the umpire said play ball," Mississippi State head coach Andy Cannizaro said. "It was kind of one of those game where we eased into it."

Trailing 5-0 as the home half of the third inning began, Mississippi State would score their first run of the contest after Mangum laced a double to right and later touched home after a Luke Alexander sacrifice fly to short centerfielder. Shortstop Ryan Gridley would extend the inning with a single to left, the third Bulldog hit of the day, but he would be stranded. 

Billingsley returned to the mound to begin the fourth After a pair of walks, left hander Andrew Mahoney would be summoned by Cannizaro. Mahoney would surrender back to back hits pushing across two more Red Fox runs. A ground out to second would score another and bring the Marist lead to 8-1.

"We have to continue to do a better job on the mound pitching," Cannizaro said. "We have to a better job of picking up timely hits."

In the bottom of the fifth inning, State would look to rally. Brant Baylock would double to center, Mangum would walk and Alexander would reach on an error. Marist looked to turn the double play, but Mangum beat the turn at second and the throw to first got loose. Blaylock would score and allow State to inch closer at 8-2. 

With Bulldogs on the corners and one out,a wild pitch would plate Mangum and make it 8-3.

After a Ryan Gridley walk and a Brent Rooker fly out, Cody Brown would be hit by the pitch to load the bases for Tanner Poole. Poole would hit the second pitch to short and a short flip to second ending the home half of the 5th and stranding three.

Marist would add to their lead in the top of the sixth and lead 9-3 as State came to bat. Gordon would open the frame with a ground out to short. Josh Lovelady would eat the short stop up and reach safely on the error, Blaylock would walk bringing Mangum to the plate with two on and just one down.. Mangum would be hit by the pitch to load the bases for Alexander. 

Alexander would send a chopper over third and into the left field corner. Lovelady and Blaylock would score cutting the Marist lead to 9-5. Gridley would swing with two runners in scoring position and just one out. A sharp single under a diving first baseman would plate two more and suddenly the Marist lead was down to just two runs.

Riley Self, who entered the game in the 6th, would make quick work of Marist in the top of 7th with a 1-2-3 inning. 

The Bulldogs would pick up in the 7th where they left off in the 6th. Poole would walk, Gordon would single and then Lovelady would get a bunt down, the attempted throw to get the lead runner would be late and the bases were loaded again.

After a Blaylock strike out, Mangum would hit a high chopper to short and a run would score bringing State to within one at 9-8. Alexander would strike out stranding two, but the Bulldogs had their eighth run home for the eight consecutive game. 

"We have bases loaded down two, we have a very non-competitive strike out, we go a ground ball to the middle of the infield that scores a run and then we go another non-competitive strike out," Cannizaro said. "It wasn't day where we played very well, but we certainly we continued to battle back and I think that's a sign of our team early in the season. We are not going to give up. We aren't going to give games away. We just have to find a way to come out and play better."

In the 8th, Self would again baffle the Marist hitters in another 1-2-3 inning with two of those three Red Fox outs coming via the strikeout. Back out for the 9th, the freshman would pitch around a single and keep the Dogs within one for the final at bat.

"I feel like I did good," Self said, "I got a lot of ground balls and a lot of pop-ups and let my defense work. I did the best I could to put us in a situation where we could win the game.It just didn't happen."

Self did his part to hold Marist and give State a chance, but in the 9th inning the Bulldogs could not scratch across the tying run. Poole would strikeout, Gordon would follow suit and Hunter Stovall, who pinch hit for Lovelady, would fly out to right to end the ball game. 

"We have to get more out of starting pitching than we got today," Cannizaro said. "Ryan Cyr just didn't have it today, but he is going to be back out on the mound really soon. We'll see what type of role or what capacity, but he will be back out on the mound this weekend."

The Bulldogs will not play a mid-week contest in the coming week. Instead the team will leave Wednesday morning for Eugene, Oregon for a three game weekend series against the Oregon Ducks. The Bulldogs won the season series against the Ducks last season.

While it appears that Konnor Pilkington and Peyton Plumlee have secured their starting spots in the rotation for next weekend, Sunday remains a bit of a mystery. At press time, freshman Graham Aschcraft looks to be in line as the third starter, but Self is certainly making a case to be a bigger part of the Bulldog pitching plans going forward.

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