HOOVER, Ala. – Mississippi State and Missouri made sure their first-ever meeting in Southeastern Conference baseball action would be one for the record books.
Mitch Slauter’s RBI-single in the home half of the 17th inning lifted No. 13 Mississippi State past Missouri 2-1 in the final game of the opening-round of the Southeastern Conference tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
The fifth-seeded Bulldogs (41-16) will meet the fourth-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks (39-16) in the final game of the second day of the tournament. That contest will start 30 minutes after the completion of the 4:30 p.m. contest Wednesday. With Tuesday’s victory, the Bulldogs now move into the double-elimination portion of the bracket.
“Everyone kept competing tonight,” MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson said. “The pitchers threw strikes and really challenged the strike zone. I thought our kids played their hearts out tonight in what was really a great game. Defensively, we made some great plays and kept waiting for our opportunity.”
The contest matched the longest game played in MSU history and was the longest in Missouri history. MSU defeated Ole Miss 4-1 in 17 innings in a 2007 regular season game played in Oxford. The game easily became the longest postseason game played in MSU history, bettering a 5-4 12-inning victory over Ole Miss in the 2003 SEC Tournament.
The contest also matched the longest SEC Tournament game ever played while setting a new standard for the Hoover Met. In 1994, Auburn defeated Arkansas 3-1 in a 17-inning affair at the SEC Western Division Tournament held in Oxford.
In the home half of the 17th inning, Wes Rea started things with a leadoff walk on a full-count pitch. After a sacrifice bunt by C.T. Bradford and a strikeout, Mitch Slauter followed with a line drive single to right center scoring the game-winning run.
“You have to be so proud of Mitch for coming through in that opportunity,” Thompson said. “He has battled back from injury and illness so for him to be able to lift the team to victory like that is special indeed.”
The Bulldogs had an opportunity to win the game an inning earlier. Adam Frazier, Sam Frost and Hunter Renfroe had consecutive singles. However, a groundout snuffed that threat.
Missouri (18-32) scored first in the third inning. Brannon Champagne had a one-out single, advanced on two wild pitches and scored on the game’s only error.
MSU answered in the fifth inning. Derrick Armstrong started things with a one-out single. After a single by Frazier and fly out, Renfroe lined a game-tying single.
From there, the scoring threats were rare. MSU stranded 19 base runners, while Missouri stranded 10.
The Bulldogs threw six pitchers. Starter Trevor Fitts was lifted with one out in the fourth inning. Chad Girodo (2.2 IP), Ben Bracewell (2.1 IP), Jonathan Holder (2.2 IP), Ross Mitchell (3.0 IP) and Will Cox (3.0 IP) all followed in relief. Cox (3-1) faced 10 batters and recorded two strikeouts to post the victory.
“We have been working with Will to change his arm motion,” Thompson said. “He has done a tremendous job and it is exciting to see him go out and perform well on this stage in a big game.”
The Missouri pitching duo of Rob Zastryzny (9.0 IP) and Keaton Steele (7.0 IP) each threw better than 100 pitchers. Jake Walsh (2-2) threw the last inning and took the loss.
The Bulldogs finished with 16 hits. Frazier finished with three hits, while Renfroe, Brett Pirtle, Rea, Nick Ammirati and Derrick Armstrong each had multiple hits. Pirtle has now reached safely in 30 straight games.