Cody Brown (Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page)

Blaylock Drives in Brown to Top Columbia; Price Earns Win in Relief

He couldn’t quite drive it out of the park. A three-bagger for Cody Brown worked almost as well. Certainly well enough to set Mississippi State up for ninth-inning victory.

A leadoff triple put Brown in easy range to score on RF Brant Blaylock’s single and give Mississippi State a 5-4 final over Columbia. The Bulldogs walked-off 9-6 and got immediately busy preparing for a 3:02 first pitch against South Alabama.

Columbia is 0-5 and will also play the Jaguars in the third Sunday contest.

Brown was already having a productive afternoon. Subbed-in for defense in the sixth inning, he came up with two teammates on and two outs in a 1-1 contest. Brown punched a full-count single through the box to score both 3B Luke Alexander and RF Elijah MacNamee and give State its first lead.

Blaylock made it a 4-1 margin with his single scoring Brown.

That lead evaporated in Columbia’s eighth inning, as the Lions took advantage of tiring reliever RHP Jacob Barton and ineffective RHP Ryan Cyr. Those two bullpen Dogs split four consecutive base hits, and each a double and single in sequence. Lion Kyle Bartelman doubled-in one run, and Liam McGill drove in another pair for the 4-4 deadlock.

RHP Spencer Price, who State surely hoped not to use at all on Sunday, held the line. He struck out four of the three faced in this jam, two of those after a bases-loading walk. The inning ended with pinch-hitter Chandler Bengston going down swinging to leave all sacks stuffed.

Price had more of his own challenges in the ninth, with two Lions reaching on a two-out single and walk. Alexander saved this day as he charged a slow roller, dodged two teammates, and zipped a low throw just in time to nip pinch-hitter Michael Kuzbel.

Columbia righty Brett Gannaway had stopped State’s sixth-inning outburst and held things there into the ninth. Then Brown lofted a drive that if not for an incoming-wind would have ended the game right there. The ball stayed just inside the fence but was between the center- and right-fielders for the stand-up triple.

With the infield drawn in tight Blaylock came through with a second and biggest RBI, bouncing the base hit past Bartelman.

Price (2-1) picked up the late relief win with 2.0 innings on a hit, walk, and three strikeouts. The Lions were prone to fannings all afternoon, as starter RHP Denver McQuary struck out six in his 4.0 innings and Barton got four more in 3.0 turns. McQuary was charged with a third inning run as Ben Porter singled in A.J.DiFillipio for a lead that lasted into the fifth.

Lion starter Josh Simpson lasted 5.2 innings and for five of those looked like a winner. State didn’t score off him until the sixth as Blaylock singled with one out, and got to third base as Simpson’s pickoff move went very wild. 2B Hunter Stovall’s fly ball to rightfield was far enough for the sacrifice-fly and tied game.

Simpson was charged with four runs on six hits with three walks and strikeouts each. Gannaway (0-1) took the loss on 2.1 turns with three hits and the one run.

Blaylock came in batting .205 but improved his stock greatly with a 3-of-4 day, two RBI and a run. Brown was 2-for-2, scoring twice and driving in two as well. CF Jake Mangum though had his 27-game hitting streak snapped going 0-of-3.

The Bulldogs were starting RHP Peyton Plumlee in the rematch with South Alabama. State took Friday’s game 2-0 on a 13-strikout show by LHP Konnor Pilkington. All Saturday was washed out so three games are being played Sunday; and State has booked Columbia to stay over for a 1:00 Monday finale to the weekend.

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