UK starter Joseph Blanton (3-2) struck out the first two Bulldogs he faced before Matthew Brinson reached on an error and later scored on a first-inning double by Brent Lewis. Brinson extended the MSU lead to 3-0 in the third inning with a two-run home run. Two innings later Brinson opened the fifth with a double and scored MSU's final run on Steve Gendron's single to right field. Blanton struck out nine but gave up four runs on seven hits in seven innings. Mark Galvin shut out the Bulldogs on one-hit pitching over the final two frames.
In the nightcap, Mississippi State jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings and chased UK starter Craig Snipp from the game with two more runs in the fifth.
But the Bulldogs were unable to hold the lead. Kentucky cut the lead in the fifth inning with a three-run blast by Seth Morris off MSU starter Tanner Brock. Brock scattered five hits and struck out four during his five-inning stint.
Matthew Maniscalco singled and scored on Chad Henry's two-out double in the sixth to put State on top 6-3. But Kentucky answered in its half of the inning off MSU relief pitcher Chris Young, tying the score with a pair of singles and a season-first three-run home run by Spencer Graeter. In the seventh Kentucky claimed its first lead of the day when Morris lashed his second home run of the day, a solo shot over the left-centerfield wall off Jonathan Papelbon, the third Bulldog hurler in the game. Brad Pickrell walked and scored UK's final run in the eighth on a single by Graeter and a Bulldog fielding miscue in the outfield.
Bulldog catcher and Lexington, Ky., native Jason Burkley opened the ninth with a solo home run that pulled State within a run. But UK relief pitcher Bryan Felkel (2-0) struck out the last three batters he faced to end the game. Felkel fanned four and gave up two hits in 2-1/3 innings of relief work.
Morris went 3-for-4 and drove in four runs to pace Kentucky at the plate. Matthew Maniscalco went 3-for-5 and drove in a run with one of five Bulldog doubles in the game.
MISSISSIPPI STATE 4, KENTUCKY 2 (game 1)
MSU 102 001 000 - 4-8-2
UK 000 200 000 - 2-4-3
WP - Paul Maholm (4-1). LP - Joseph Blanton (3-2). HR - (MSU) Matthew Brinson (3). T - 2:18.
KENTUCKY 8, MISSISSIPPI STATE 7
MSU 120 021 001 - 7-13-2
UK 000 033 11x - 8-11-3
WP - Bryan Felkel (2-0). LP - Jonathan Papelbon (1-2). HR - (UK) Seth Morris-2 (6), Spencer Graeter (1); (MSU) Jason Burkley (5). T - 2:40. ATT - 378.