Diamond Dogs Split Saturday DH With Wildcats

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Mississippi State and Kentucky split a Southeastern Conference baseball doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium on the UK campus. The Bulldogs rallied from a four-run deficit to take a 6-5 victory in the opener. The Wildcats cruised to a 13-4 victory in the second game. The two teams play the rubber game of the weekend three games series at noon CT Sunday.

MSU saw a three-game win streak snapped in the second game. The Bulldogs are now 14-16 overall and 3-8 in conference play. Kentucky, who lost at home in for the first time this year Saturday, is now 24-5 and 6-5. The 10th-ranked Wildcats are now 19-1 at home this season.

Kentucky pounded out 19 hits and had little trouble cruising to victory in the second game. MSU continued its offensive struggles with men on base. The Bulldogs completed the doubleheader hitting into seven double plays, including four in the final game. MSU was threating to chase UK starter Scott Green early. The Bulldogs scored twice in the third inning to close the deficit to 4-3. Kentucky quickly answered with a pair of two-run home runs in a four-run fourth inning and cruised from there.

MSU managed nine hits in the second game. Ryan Collins, Connor Powers, Tyler Moore and Jet Butler each had multiple hits. Russ Sneed was hitless, as he saw a nine-game hit streak snapped.

For the Wildcats, Keenan Wiley had four hits, while Collin Cowgill and Chris Wade each had three hits. Cowgill drove in four runs. Bryan Rose, Sawyer Carroll and Ryan Wilkes each had multiple hits for UK. Wilkes and Cowgill hit the home runs in the fourth inning. Brian Spear added his own two-run shot in the sixth inning. Cowgill homered in each game and has now hit 12 on the season.

Green (3-1) pitched seven innings, allowing eight hits and three runs (all earned), with a pair of strikeouts and one walk. Clint Tilford and Logan Darnell completed the contest for the Wildcats.

For MSU, Lee Swindle (2-3) took the loss. Swindle lasted just 1-2/3 innings, allowing six hits and four runs (all earned), with one walk and one strikeout. Forrest Moore worked 5-1/3 innings, allowing all three of the home runs. Jesse Carver completed the contest on the mound for the Bulldogs.

In the opener, the Bulldogs erased a 4-0 deficit by scoring four runs in the sixth inning. An inning later, Ryan Duffy broke the tie with his third home run of the year. MSU also plated a critical insurance score in that at-bat, helping to win a conference series opener for a second straight weekend.

Chad Crosswhite had a strong outing, making his first conference start thanks to an early-season injury. Crosswhite worked 5-1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and four runs (all earned), with three walks and four strikeouts. For Crosswhite, his 10th appearance of the year was his season's longest.

John Lalor (1-2) worked the Bulldogs out of a tight spot in the sixth inning and also pitched the seventh inning to garner the win.

Aaron Weatherford earned his third save, depsite a shaky eighth inning. Weatherford allowed a walk and hit two batters but worked out of the eigth inning and retired the side in order with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth inning.

Offensively, the Bulldogs started the comeback when Jason Nappi slapped his eighth home run of the year - a two-run shot to start the scoring in the sixth inning. After the home run, Powers followed with a single. A flyout followed and then Butler reached on a dropped third strike, which should have ended the inning. The Bulldogs took advantage as Moore laced an RBI-single and Butler later scored on a wild pitch.

Powers also had a big blow an inning later, lining an RBI double to cap the MSU scoring, three batters after Duffy's home run.

MSU finished with 12 hits. Nappi and Moore each had three hits, while Powers had two hits.

Kentucky finished with nine hits. Chris McClendon had three hits and a pair of RBI. McClendon hit his second home run - a solo homer during UK's two-run second inning. Collin Cowgill also hit a solo home run in the seventh inning but UK could get no closer.

For UK, Chris Rusin threw the first six innings. Brock Baber (1-2) was touched for Duffy's home run and took the loss.

Sunday's series finale is a projected of matchup of two-right handed pitchers. MSU is slated to start sophomore Ricky Bowen (2-3, 6.62 ERA ) against Kentucky senior Greg Drombrowski (2-0, 4.01).

The Bulldogs then remain on the road for a Tuesday night non-conference matchup with the University of Memphis. Game time is 6:30 p.m. at AutoZone Park.

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