Sean Coughlin led off with a single. After Matt McKinney flied out to center field, Brian Spear singled to left. Ryan Wilkes flew out to left field for the second out of the inning. Jason Kipnis scored both Coughlin and Spear with a double to left center. Tyler Howe also doubled, knocking in Kipnis. Antone DeJesus scored Kentucky's final run of the inning with a single to left field that plated Howe.
"My location felt great the first inning, but I don't know what happened in the second inning," said MSU starting pitcher Justin Pigott. "They got some hits. I just didn't make the right pitches."
Kentucky expanded the lead to 7-0 with a three-run fourth.
Spear started the inning with a single. Wilkes moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Kipnis doubled for the second time in the game, scoring Spear. Howe then scored Kipnis with a base hit up the middle. Kentucky plated their last run of the inning when a single by DeJesus got by the Bulldog left fielder, allowing Howe to score.
State finally got on the board in the bottom half of the fourth.
Joseph McCaskill started it off with a double. Brian LaNinfa hit an infield single, moving McCaskill to third. Connor Powers then hit into a fielder's choice that scored McCaskill. After Brandon Turner singled to right field, Jeff Flagg singled up the middle, scoring Powers. Starting pitcher Andrew Albers, the second lefthander to start for Kentucky in the two games, ended the inning by getting Hardy to fly out and Rea to ground out to third base.
"We haven't faced too many lefthanders and their top two pitchers are lefthanders," said MSU head coach Pon Polk of his team's second consecutive slow start hitting against Kentucky. "Sometimes it takes you one time to go through the lineup to get a feel for the pitcher."
State added two more in the bottom half of the fifth.
Ed Easley hit a pop fly single to short left field that landed between the shortstop and left fielder. McCaskill, with one out, singled up the middle, moving Easley to third. LaNinfa popped up to second base for the second out of the inning. Connor Powers, on a 3-1 count, hit a high popup that was dropped by the second baseman, allowing Easley to score State's third run of the game. McCaskill moved to third on the play. Brandon Turner, on a 1-2 count, lined a single to left field, knocking in McCaskill. Jeff Flagg came ever so close to adding two more runs with a shot to right field that Mike Brown made a great catch on as he was running full-speed toward the right field fencing. That was his second runs-saving catch of the game.
"Defense won this game. Brown made two outstanding catches with runners in scoring position," said Polk. "That was three or four runs right there. It was just a case of who makes the plays and who doesn't and Brown made the plays."
Kentucky starting pitcher Andrew Albers lasted into the 6th inning. After getting the first two hitters out, he walked Easley. Aaron Lovett replaced him and immediately got Mitch Moreland to pop up to third base for the final out of the inning.
Kentucky added two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth to move back out in front 10-4.
A pair of doubles by Mike Brown and Sawyer Carroll added a run and knocked Pigott out of the game. His replacement, Jesse Carver, hit the first batter he faced, Sean Coughlin, to put men on 1st and 2nd with no outs. After a sacrifice bunt by McKinney, Spear walked, loading the bases. Greg Houston was brought in to replace Carver for State. Wilkes greeted him with an RBI single. Then, Houston got Kipnis to ground into an inning-ending double play.
"I got behind on the hitters and that's a problem when you get behind on hitters," said Pigott. "My job is get ahead on the count and put pressure on the hitters and I didn't do that today."
In the eighth, Kentucky scored one run on a run-scoring double by Carroll.
"They were able to expand the lead when they got some balls in the gaps, in the right center field gap especially," said Polk. "You would have liked to think that we would have gotten some ground balls but we didn't."
In the bottom of the 8th inning State came right back to add two runs, but that would be their final scoring of the game.
Turner started the inning with a walk off of Lovett. A balked moved him to second. Flagg hit a ground ball to the second baseman that he tried to backhand, but errored instead, allowing Turner to score MSU's 5th run of the game. Goforth walked on a 3-1 count, putting men on first and second with no outs. Rea hit a ball up the middle that tipped the pitcher's glove and went to the second baseman who flipped it to the shortstop to get Goforth on a fielder's choice. Easley knocked in Flagg with a deep fly ball to center field for a sacrifice fly. Moreland then hit a fly out to deep left field for the third out of the inning.
State's hitters went down quietly in the ninth.
Kentucky reliever Lovett allowed a single to start the ninth, but got to LaNinfa to strike out and Powers to hit into a game-ending double play.
Justin Pigott, who allowed 9 runs on 12 hits in his 6 innings, took the loss for the Bulldogs.
"(Justin) wasn't as sharp as he would have liked to have been," said Polk. "But Kentucky is a good-hitting ballclub."
Andrew Albers earned the victory, allowing 4 runs (2 earned) on 10 hits in 5.2 innings of work. Aaron Lovett picked up his third save of the season.
"(Albers) was spotting his fastball good and if you are spotting your fastball you are going to be effective," said Brandon Turner. "He did that well."
State was led in hitting by Joseph McCaskill (3-for-5) and Brandon Turner (3-for-3, 1 RBI).
Kentucky was led by Sawyer Carroll's three hit day.
The two teams conclude the three-game series with a 1:30 p.m. game Sunday afternoon.
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 email@example.com.