Mississippi State is suffering through a very un-Bulldog-like baseball season. The 2021 College World Series champions entered this week’s series with nationally ranked South Carolina at 0-6 in SEC play, having been outscored 90-26 in those conference defeats. On Thursday, the Gamecocks extended their misery and made a little history along the way with a 6-4 win at Dudy Noble Field in Starkville, Mississippi.
USC had a chance to put the game away early, as they threatened in both the first and second innings. With two outs, the Gamecocks got three runners on board via a walk and two hit by pitches. However, Michael Braswell, who was making just his second start of the season, struck out to end the threat. In the second, Carolina got runners to second and third with two outs before a strange review ended the inning. After originally being granted first base on a hit by pitch, Gavin Casas was ruled to have leaned into the offering and thus struck out looking.
With the game tied at 1-1 entering the fifth inning, the Gamecocks drew an ace from their power hitting deck of cards. Ethan Petry clobbered his 13th home run of the season, giving the Gamecocks a one-run lead, which Braswell would increase shortly thereafter. His double down the right field line plated Cole Messina and extended USC’s advantage to 3-1 midway through play in Starkville.
After the Bulldogs tied it with a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth, the frustrated MSU fans witnessed a sequence that sent them into a frenzy. Following a leadoff single by Petry to open the 7th inning, Cole Messina stepped to the plate. With the count at 1-2, a borderline pitch was called a ball by home plate umpire Jeff Wright. On the very next pitch, Messina hit a bomb over the wall in left field to provide the Gamecocks with a 5-3 lead. MSU head coach Chris Lemonis was incensed and ultimately ejected after arguing what he believed should have been strike three on the previous pitch to Messina.
USC added an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning on an RBI single by Dylan Brewer. The Clemson transfer led the Gamecocks with three hits while driving in a pair of runs. Meanwhile, the two Gamecock home runs in the game, upped Carolina’s total to 68 on the season.
Mississippi State made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth, scoring a run and getting the potential tying runs on base with two outs. But Cade Austin got a strikeout of Hunter Hines to extinguish the threat and earn his first save of the season. James Hicks (4-0) got the win in relief for USC.
Despite striking out 17 times and stranding fourteen men on base, the Gamecocks improved to 25-2 on the season and 7-0 in Southeastern Conference play for the first time in school history. The Bulldogs fell to 15-12 overall and 0-7 in the league. Game two of the series is set for Friday at 7pm ET.