Recapping No. 24 MSU’s 5-4 win over No. 14 South Carolina at Dudy Noble Field on Thursday.
• The buzz: Mississippi State did it again, making a late rally for the second consecutive SEC game to pull out a win in the series opener. Despite slugger Hunter Renfroe continuing to struggle, MSU (39-15, 15-13 SEC) piled up some hits and finally saw it pay off in the eighth inning. South Carolina (38-15, 16-11) had been 32-2 when leading after six innings this season.
• Big inning: MSU scored four times in the eighth, and it started with Wes Rea‘s leadoff home run. Then closer Tyler Webb, who has 15 saves, entered the game. C.T. Bradford singled, Demarcus Henderson put down a bunt single, and then MSU got back-to-back RBI hits from Nick Ammirati and Adam Frazier to tie it. After a wild pitch moved runners over to second and third base, Renfroe was walked, and then Webb (2-2) walked Brett Pirtle for the go-ahead run.
• Key stats: MSU out-hit South Carolina 14-7. … MSU stranded 12 runners, SC stranded five. … State was 0 for 3 with the bases loaded. … Each team had a runner thrown out at home plate.
• South Carolina at the plate: Brison Celek had two hits. … Joey Pankake stroked a two-run double in the first inning. … SC got two more runs in the fifth.
• MSU at the plate: Ammirati, Bradford and Henderson had three hits apiece. … Renfroe was 1 of 4, and over his last 15 games he’s 14 of 54 with one double and two home runs. … Pirtle had two RBIs, driving in a run in the third to make it a 2-1 game.
• South Carolina on the mound: Starter Nolan Belcher threw 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run on nine hits with four strikeouts and three walks. … Adam Westmoreland allowed one run on one hit in two-thirds of an inning. … Webb was charged with three runs (all earned) on four hits with no strikeouts and two walks.
• MSU on the mound: Starter Luis Pollorena gave up two runs in the first inning, then retired 12 consecutive hitters before finding more trouble in the fifth. In 4 2/3 innings, he was charged with four runs (all earned) on five hits with no strikeouts and one walk. … Ross Mitchell tossed two shutout innings, allowing two hits with two strikeouts and no walks. … Will Cox got one out. … Chad Girodo (6-1) got the win with one inning of shutout relief. … Jonathan Holder entered with a man on base in the ninth and got the next three hitters out for his 15th save.
• Quotable: “Nobody’s panicking in the dugout, nobody’s going crazy, because we know what we’re capable of, so we just keep fighting and battling back.” – Henderson
• Bottom line: MSU’s offense has had its struggles, and goodness knows Renfroe is off his game, but this offense has been piling up the hits lately. Over its last four games, State has 51 hits, and after some tough breaks early on tonight, some balls started falling. This win keeps hope alive that the Bulldogs can earn a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament; that will require a sweep of South Carolina.