MSU Rally One Run Short

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky built up a 10-2 lead and held off a late charge by Mississippi State, edging the Bulldogs 10-9 Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium. UK snapped a six-game SEC losing skid, improving to 16-13 and 3-7 in SEC play. State dropped to 19-11 overall and 3-7 in the SEC.

Sophomore righty Kalen Gibson (3-1) scattered five hits over the first five frames and left the game in the seventh with a 10-2 lead. Relief pitcher Matt Scott finished the game, surviving a late charge that saw the Bulldogs plate seven runs over the final three innings and end the game with two runners on base.

Gibson was charged with six runs on eight hits with five strikeouts.

Scott walked the first two batters he faced in the ninth and Jeffrey Rea delivered a one-out run-scoring single through the right side of the infield. Scott retired Steve Gendron on a fielder's choice groundout and struck out Craig Tatum to cloes out the game.

State out-hit Kentucky 12-10 but lost for the first time this year when totaling more hits than its opponent. Each team hit two home runs, but Kentucky got three-run and two-run home runs while State's two blasts were solo shots.

Kentucky jumped on MSU starter Jamie Gant (3-4) for three runs in the first inning. Casey Gilvin opened the game with a walk, Spencer Graeter followed with a bunt single and Billy Grace drove them home with a double into the left field corner. Mike Breyman doubled to left-center to score Grace and give the UKats a 3-0 lead.

Thomas Berkery cut the Kentucky lead to 3-1 in the second inning with a solo home run, his second blast in as many games.

But Kentucky took command of the game in the third inning, sending nine batters to the plate and scoring four runs on four hits. Third baseman Joe Kungl delivered the big blow, a three-run shot to right-center field.

The home run derby continued in the fourth inning. Brad Corley launched his team-leading sixth home run to open the inning. Grace drew a walk to open the UK fourth and Caleb Stewart followed with a blast over the right field wall at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Gant registered his fourth, fifth and sixth strikeouts in the fifth inning, but UK expanded its lead to 10-2 when leadoff batter Joe Naill was struck by a pitch and raced home on a triple off the right-center field wall by Grater. Gant allowed 10 runs on 10 hits with four walks and six strikeouts.

The Bulldogs closed the gap and batted athrough the order during a four-run burst in the seventh inning. State loaded the bases on singles by Tyler Jones and Jeffrey Rea and a mishandled relay throw on a grounder by Steve Gendron. Craig Tatum cleared the bases with a double to left center-field and later scored on Thomas Berkery's infield groundout. Matt Scott, who faced three batters in the inning, retired Jeffrey Butts on an infield groundout to end the rally with two runners on base.

Brett Cleveland, who replaced Gant to start the sixth, shut out Kentucky with no-hit relief pitching over the final three frames. He walked one and hit two during his mound appearance.

Meanwhile, State continued to close the gap off Scott in the eighth. Rea reached on a fielding error at second, Gendron singled to left, and Tatum sent both runners home on his second consecutive double to make it 10-8. Scott retired two of the next three batters to get out of the inning before getting into trouble in the ninth.

Rea's third single of the night drove in Thomas Berkery, who walked to open the inning But Gendron's infield hopper was speared by Scott and turned into an out and Tatum, who drove in a career-high five runs on a 3-for-5 outing, struck out on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.

Berkery went 2-for-3 and drove in two Bulldog runs.

The Bulldogs and the Wildcats continue their three-game Easter weekend series Saturday at 2 p.m. (EDT). Junior righthander Alan Johnson (1-1, 5.74) is the scheduled MSU starter.

MSU 010 100 421 - 9-12-1
UK 304 210 00x - 10-10-2

WP - Kalen Gibson (3-1). LP - Jamie Gant (3-4). HR - MSU: Thomas Berkery (2), Brad Corley (6), UK: Jake Kungl (2), Caleb Stewart (7). T - 2:53. ATT - 416.

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