HOOVER, Ala. (WCBI/MSU Athletics) – Mississippi State junior left-handed pitcher Jacob Lindgren found a rhythm Wednesday night.
Lindgren was dominant in relief as the Bulldogs knocked off South Carolina 12-0 in the final game of the second day of the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament being played at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
Entering with two runners on base in the third inning, Lindgren (6-1) retired all 12 batters he faced, with six strikeouts in four innings of work. Lindgren followed in relief of starter Trevor Fitts. The Bulldogs blew open a tight contest with eight runs in the seventh inning.
One of the final four unbeatens in the double-elimination event, fifth-seeded seed MSU (37-20) will now face ninth-seeded Kentucky (34-22) in Thursday’s final game. Scheduled to start 30 minutes after the completion of the 4:30 p.m. game between LSU and Arkansas, the MSU-Kentucky game will be televised regionally by Comcast Sports Southeast and will also be available nationally on ESPN3
MSU starts the conference tournament 2-0 for a third straight season, while UK is 2-0 in the event for the first time. With Wednesday’s win, the Bulldogs have beaten the Gamecocks four straight times in this event.
It was MSU’s largest margin of victory in the conference tournament since a 16-2 win over Auburn in 1990. The Bulldogs won for the first time by the recently-enacted tournament run rule as the contest was called after USC’s at-bat in the seventh inning.
“We swung the bats well tonight,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “South Carolina is really good. They will come back out and compete (Thursday). We just had a lot of really good fortune tonight. I thought we had some really good offensive at-bats and had a good night at the plate.”
The Bulldogs began the scoring in the second inning. Wes Rea drew a walk and took second base on a sacrifice bunt. Reid Humphreys followed with a single, as did Derrick Armstrong, who brought Rea home with his base hit. A double play worked USC starter Jordan Montgomery out of this tight spot.
An inning later, some wildness by Montgomery again opened the door for the Maroon and White. C.T. Bradford singled, while Brett Pirtle and Gavin Collins followed with back-to-back one-out walks. A ground ball out by Rea brought one run home, while an RBI-single by Demarcus Henderson scored the other.
A walk to Matthew Britton led to MSU’s lone run in the fourth inning. After a ground out by Seth Heck moved Britton to second base, he scored on a Bradford RBI-single. That hit ended the day for Montgomery (7-5), who allowed six hits and four runs (all earned), with four walks and a strikeout.
In relief, Taylor Widener retired seven straight for the Gamecocks before the wheels fell completely off in the MSU seventh inning.
The big Maroon-clad inning started with back-to-back hits by Seth Heck and Bradford. Brett Pirtle then lined his second home run of the season – a three-run shot into the MSU bullpen in right field. Reed Scott followed but the Bulldogs kept hitting.
Collins and Henderson greeted Scott with singles. An overthrow by USC allowed one run to score, while the lead bumped to 9-0 on an RBI-single by Armstrong. Heck followed with an RBI-double, while USC’s second error in the inning scored another run. A bases-loaded walk to Jake Vickerson closed the scoring.
MSU finished with 14 hits. Heck and Bradford each had three hits as the top two spots in the MSU lineup were 6-for-9. Henderson and Armstrong each had two hits. Pirtle drove in three runs, while Armstrong drove in two runs.
“Jacob did what he has done all year,” Cohen said. “The game was on the line when we brought him there in the third inning and he got the big outs we needed. We really needed to win this game so it was a good night for us.”
Fitts worked two-plus innings, while Myles Gentry threw the seventh inning. The trio of hurlers held USC to a season-low two hits.