STARKVILLE, Miss. — Taking two out of three games from South Carolina is a positive way to start league play. But forgive Mississippi State coach John Cohen if he was not satisfied with how Game 3 of the Bulldogs’ home series with the Gamecocks ended.
South Carolina (11-4, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) notched 14 hits, and the Bulldogs (12-5, 2-1) squandered three bases-loaded situations Sunday at Dudy Noble Field, as the Gamecocks recovered from a pair of dismal showings to take the series finale 5-4.
Earlier Sunday, in the conclusion of a game postponed Saturday night due to low-lying fog, the Bulldogs scored three runs each in the fourth and eighth innings to dispatch the Gamecocks 10-3.
By agreement from Saturday night, Sunday’s regularly scheduled game was shortened to seven innings.
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The Bulldogs managed five hits on the finale, but used a pair of bases-loaded busting double plays to help lessen the pressure from USC’s hit total.
Yet after taking the lead in the third and fifth innings, Cohen wanted to see his team’s finishing move.
“You have your foot on the opponents’ neck with the opportunity to come after them, and to let that slip away really hurts,” Cohen said. “What you don’t want that to do is let that third game bleed into what your going to do in the middle of the week.
“So what I’m going to tell my guys in the locker room is ‘Hey, anyone who thinks two out of three is a good weekend, that’s not what we’re after’. We’re after competing as hard as we can all of the time and I didn’t think we competed as well in this third game.”
South Carolina got to starting pitcher Devin Jones early, hanging a run and five hits on the freshman before Cohen brought on Drew Hollinghead, who took the loss, in the third.
Kyle Enders put the Gamecocks up 1-0 following a solo shot off Jones in the second. Hollinghead gave up an RBI single to Casey Rihn in the fourth. He was relieved by Jared Wesson, who got out of a bases-loaded jam with a 4-3 double play turned by Jet Butler.
Rihn’s RBI tied the score 2-2, but only after the Bulldogs notched a pair of runs in the bottom of the third. Scott DeLoach’s slow-roller to first base was enough to bring in Butler from third.
USC’s Adam Westmoreland claimed the win for USC, pitching three innings and giving up three runs on two hits. He struck out four.
With the bases loaded, Westmoreland walked in Russ Sneed from third before getting out of the bottom half of the third inning. Alex Farotto replaced Westmoreland in the middle of the fourth.
The Gamecocks looked like breaking the game open in the top of the fifth, loading the bases with one out. A sacrifice fly from Enders pushed Brent Brownlee to the warning track, which resulted in Nick Ebert scoring and tying the game 3-3.
Justin Bussey came on for Hollinghead before Enders’ sacrifice fly. He ended the inning by striking out Rihn.
USC’s Blake Cooper took the loss for Game 2 after pitching two innings and giving up four runs on four hits. Reliever Nolan Belcher gave up four runs on seven hits and struck out six.