STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State could not continue its extra-inning magic Friday night.
In their last homestand, the Bulldogs won back-to-back extra-inning games against Alabama. A try to make it three straight came up short, as 16th-ranked MSU fell 5-3 in 10 innings to 12th-ranked South Carolina in the middle game of a weekend Southeastern Conference series at Dudy Noble Field.
“We defended it well and pitched it pretty well,” MSU head coach John Cohen said.”We didn’t have as good a swing a couple of times as I would have liked. We have two evenly matched teams. Our kids kept battling and hung in there. Things did not go our way late in the game.”
MSU fell to 39-16 overall and 15-14 in league play, while USC improved to 39-15 and 17-11. With the victory, the Gamecocks clinched a top four finish in the conference standings and a first-round bye in the newly-expanded 12-team SEC tournament. MSU can nail down the No.5 seed with a victory Saturday.
The Bulldogs enter the final day of the regular season in sole possession of third place in the Western Division and fifth place in the overall league standings.
South Carolina built a 2-0 lead with a pair of scores in the fifth inning. A wild pitch scored one run and a groundball out plated the other.
MSU then got a gift of its own when the Bulldogs plated a score on a dropped third strike in the home half of the sixth inning.
After rallying from down 4-1 to win 5-4 Thursday, the Bulldogs surged ahead with two scores in the seventh inning. Derrick Armstrong started things with a one-out single. Adam Frazier and Alex Detz followed with hits to load the bases. After a groundout, Brett Pirtle ripped a two-run single, to place MSU on top, 3-2.
South Carolina answered with the game-tying run trotting home on a Jonathan Holder wild pitch in the eighth inning.
Grayson Greiner’s fourth home run of the year – a two-run shot off the light standard in left center – gave the Gamecocks a victory in the 10th inning.
After rallying off USC closer Tyler Webb Thursday, there was no encore. Webb set the side down in order for his 16th save in the home half of the 10th inning.
MSU finished with 10 hits. The Bulldogs played errorless ball, but stranded 11 runners, including leaving the bases loaded in the sixth and ninth innings. Detz had his second four-hit game for MSU. Frazier and Pirtle each had multiple hits. Frazier now has a team-best 25 multi-hit games this season.
South Carolina finished with nine hits. Greiner had three hits for the Gamecocks.
The Bulldogs threw eight pitchers. Starter Kendall Graveman was lifted with one out in the seventh inning, after allowing five hits and two runs (both earned), with four strikeouts and a walk. Daryl Norris was touched for the home run, but C.T. Bradford (0-1) took the loss.
USC starter Jordan Montgomery allowed nine hits and three runs (all earned) in seven innings of work.
With Friday night’s attendance of 6,932, the Bulldogs have now drawn 233,039 fans to Dudy Noble Field, which is a new single-season attendance record at Dudy Noble Field. The previous high was 233,015 in 2003.
The teams will conclude the regular season with a 2 p.m. rubber game Saturday. MSU is scheduled to start sophomore Jacob Lindgren (4-2, 3.91 ERA), while USC is schedule to start freshman left-hander Jack Wynkoop (7-2, 2.75). Seven senior Bulldogs will be honored in pregame ceremonies.