STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI Sports/MSU Athletics) – Mississippi State put the final stamp on an outstanding regular season of baseball Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.
The 16th-ranked Bulldogs erased an early deficit to post a 7-2 victory over No. 12 South Carolina in the final game of a three-game Southeastern Conference weekend series.
With the victory, MSU secured the No. 5 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament. MSU will face No. 12 seed Missouri in the fourth and final game of the tournament’s opening day Tuesday at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Ala. The contest will start 30 minutes after the completion of the 4:30 p.m. contest between No. 8 Florida and No. 9 Texas A&M. Comcast Sports Southeast will televise the night session of the Tuesday’s opening round.
By taking its first series from South Carolina since 2009, MSU enhanced its NCAA hosting resume while locking down a third-place finish in the Western Division and a fifth-place finish in the overall standings.
“I am awfully proud of the kids for playing really well this weekend,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “Against a really good team, we competed all weekend and did a lot of things right. We were one base hit away Friday night from a sweep. There was a lot riding on this weekend and the kids really responded.”
MSU finishes the regular season at 40-16 overall and 16-14 in league play. South Carolina is now 39-16 and 17-12. The Bulldogs recorded 40 wins in the regular season for the first time since 1997.
Seven MSU seniors were honored in the pregame. After that, a pair of sophomores dominated the Gamecocks on the mound. Jacob Lindgren drew the start and worked 4.1 innings. Asked to protect a 2-1 lead, Ross Mitchell did just that. Mitchell completed the seven-hitter and moved to 10-0, with each of those victories coming out of the bullpen.
“Throw strikes and challenge hitters,” Cohen said. “I thought we did a great job of that today. Ross has been very consistent this year. With a one-run lead, we had to be careful with Jacob. He gave us a great start and then Ross did a great job of closing things down from there.”
The Bulldogs expanded the lead with two runs in the sixth inning and three runs in the eighth inning. An atypical three-error worksheet by South Carolina did not help the Gamecocks’ cause either.
Demarcus Henderson led MSU with three of the team’s 11 hits. Henderson had run-producing hits in both sixth and eighth innings. Adam Frazier, Brett Pirtle and C.T. Bradford each added multiple hits.
South Carolina finished with seven hits, including multi-hit games by LB Dantzler and Max Schrock. Freshman Jack Wynkoop (7-3) was chased in the sixth inning and took the loss for the Gamecocks.