MSU Gets Revenge with a 6-5 Victory

After losing a 20-3 game to South Carolina Friday night that caused the Mississippi State players to get together and talk about the effects it might have on the team and the season, those same players answered with a clutch 6-5 extra inning victory against the No. 3 ranked South Carolina Gamecocks in front of 3,522 mostly Bulldogs fans.

"We had a players' meeting after the game and got a lot of things straight and hopefully it will carry over to tomorrow," said MSU center fielder Mark Goforth.

Like it did Saturday with the 6-5, 12-inning victory that Goforth had a direct hand in with the game-winning hit.

In the bottom of the 12th inning, Connor Powers led off with a single between the third baseman and shortstop. Joseph McCaskill moved him over with a one-ball, two-strike sacrifice bunt that was fielded by the pitcher. Then, Nick Hardy walked on a 3-1 pitch. Goforth, on a 3-2 count, hit a smash up the middle that easily scored Powers, giving the Bulldogs their hard-fought victory.

"I was looking for something to get a good swing on," said Goforth of his hit. "He threw me a couple of breaking balls and a couple of changeups. He made enough of a mistake that I was able to put it into play."

Early on, though, it looked like the Gamecocks might pull out their second victory of the series.

South Carolina dented the scoreboard first with a run in the third inning off of Bulldog starter Justin Pigott. The inning started off innocently enough with Harley Lail striking out on a 3-2 count. Then, James Darnell singled to left on another 3-2 count. After Trent Kline stuck out looking, Justin Smoak singled up the middle, moving Darnell over to third. A slow hit ball toward third base by Jon Willard resulted in an infield single that scored Darnell. The throw by the third baseman was thrown away, allowing Smoak to go to third and Willard to second. But Pigott got Phil Disher to strike out on a 1-2 count to end the inning.

South Carolina expanded their lead to 3-0 with a two-run 4th. Andrew Crisp started the inning off with a single up the middle. Travis Jones followed with a double down the left field line. Havens knocked in Crisp with a grounder to the first baseman. A squeeze bunt by Lail allowed Jones to score the 2nd run of the inning. Darnell singled to right center, but was picked off by Pigott to end the inning.

State tied the game with a three-spot in the fourth inning against starter Mike Cisco. After Mitch Moreland struck out looking and Brian LaNinfa popped up to the shortstop, Connor Powers hit his 6th home run of the season just to the left of the center field wall. McCaskill followed with a single to right field and advanced to second on a wild pitch. A double to left field scored McCaskill, then Rice scored on a Goforth single down the right field line to tie the game. A single by Jeffrey Rea caused Cisco to be pulled for reliever Will Atwood. The first batter he faced, Brandon Turner, grounded out to end the inning.

After Pigott got a three-up, three-down fifth inning against South Carolina, Mississippi State took a lead in their half of the inning. Ed Easley and Moreland walked to begin the inning. LaNinfa moved both over with a sacrifice bunt. After Powers struck out swinging, McCaskill singled up the middle, knocking in both runners. MSU threaten to get more runs when Rice and Goforth singled, but Atwood ended the threat by getting Rea to pop up to second base.

South Carolina tied it up in the top of the 6th. Disher and Andrew Crisp both singled to start the inning. Jones sacrificed them over. Haven singled to right field, knocking in both runners.

The Gamecocks threaten in the top of the eighth against Bulldog reliever Chad Crosswhite who had replaced Pigott. Disher singled past the shortstop to start the inning, then stole second after one out. Travis Jones hit a long fly ball to center that advanced Disher to third. Reese Havens, on a 2-2 count, was called out looking, ending the inning.

State had their own threat in the bottom of the ninth. Easley walked, then was sacrificed over to second by Moreland. South Carolina intentionally walked LaNinfa. Powers struck out on a 2-2 curve ball, then McCaskill hit a ball back up the middle that the pitcher grabbed and threw to first for the out.

State threaten again in the bottom of the 10th. Rice led off the inning with a double that was just out of the reach of the left fielder. Nick Hardy was brought in as a pinch runner. After Goforth was called out looking on a 1-2 count, Rea was intentionally walked, putting men on 1st and 2nd with one out. But Turner hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

State brought in redshirt freshman right-hander Ricky Bowen to start the 12th inning, replacing Mitch Moreland who had replaced Crosswhite with one out in the top of the 9th. South Carolina made it interesting after the first two batters, Smoak and Hurst, struck out on 1-2 count pitches. Reinhold, on another 1-2 count, was hit by the pitch and proceeded to steal second. But Bowen ended the threat by getting Crisp to fly out to right field.

Then the Bulldogs, now 14-5 on the season, won it on Goforth's single up the middle.

"It was a big win for us coming back from yesterday's (loss)," said Moreland. "It was huge. It shows a lot about the character of this team. This team is not going to give up."

Although he didn't figure in the decision, Justin Pigott threw 7 innings for the Bulldogs, allowing 5 runs on 11 hits and 1 walk. He also struck out 6.

Ricky Bowen earned the victory and goes to 2-0 on the season. Relievers Chad Crosswhite and Mitch Moreland also pitched well, throwing 1.1 innings and 2.2 innings without giving up a run.

"Chad came in and got some key outs and Bowen came in and shut them down," said Goforth. "And Mitch was also big for us."

MSU head coach Ron Polk agreed with Goforth's comments about Moreland.

"I think the key of the game was bringing Moreland in at the time we did," said Polk.

The Bulldogs were led in hitting by Connor Powers, who was 4-for-6 with a home run and an RBI. Andy Rice and Mark Goforth also had three hits each. Both also drove in two runs each.

Curtis Johnson took the loss for the Gamecocks (20-4, 3-2 SEC), giving up 1 run on 3 hits in 3.1 innings of work. Cisco gave up 3 runs on 8 hits in his 3.2 innings. And Will Atwood gave up 2 runs on 4 hits in 4.1 innings.

"Thankfully, we got to Cisco a little bit, but I thought that Johnson threw very well," said Polk.

Andrew Crisp was the hitting leader for South Carolina with a 4-for-6 day. James Darnell followed him with 3 hits in 5 at-bats. Only one other Gamecock had more than one hit, Phil Disher, who was 2-for-4.

The series concludes with a 1:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon game. South Carolina is expected to throw freshman right-hander Blake Cooper (3-0, 0.00) and MSU will throw senior right-hander Josh Johnson (2-0, 6.75).

"I'm hoping that Johnson can (throw) 120 to 125 pitches for us (Sunday)," said Polk. "And we have (John) Lalor. And Bowen can also go."


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

Gene's Page Top Stories