The Maroon Team may have already clinched the Bulldog World Series but that did not deter the Gray squad from still competing in Game 4 on Sunday.
Gray scored four runs in the bottom of the third inning and held on for a 5-3 victory, its first in the best of five series.
“I think we’ve pitched pretty well, especially our starters who for the most part have done a really good job,” said MSU skipper John Cohen about the scrimmages to conclude fall ball. “I think the other thing is we’ve had some offensive spurts that have been pretty impressive also. It’s been very, very competitive and hopefully we’ll finish it out the right way.”
Luke Reynolds led the way for Gray’s seven-hit attack going 2-for-3 with two doubles and three runs batted in. Jack Kruger also added a 2-for-4 afternoon with a double and one RBI.
Austin Sexton earned the win, logging three shutout innings in a start allowing two hits and striking out six.
After being shutout in the first two innings by Vance Tatum, Gray got to reliever Keegan James in the third frame. Back-to-back RBI singles by Kruger and Cody Brown was followed up by a two-run double to right by Reynolds to take a 4-0 lead.
Reynolds’ stick would strike again in the fifth inning when he lined an RBI double to the wall in right-center off Logan Elliot.
Maroon, who lead the series 3-1, was finally able to get on the board in the top of the seventh off Andrew Mahoney. Brent Rooker scored the first run on a wild pitch and Matt Spruill came through with a two-run single to close out the scoring.
Maroon collected five hits led by Spruill, who was 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs.
James took the loss allowing four runs on three hits and a pair of walks in an inning of relief.
Cohen was able to get redshirt sophomore Jacob Billingsley an inning of work for the Gray team. Billingsley missed all of last season with an arm injury but took the mound for the first time this fall giving up two hits and fanning two in his shutout frame.
“It was great,” Cohen said. “He was 88 to 90 and had a couple of really good breaking balls. When he’s at his best, his breaking ball is as good as anybodys. It’s exciting to see him go out there and get an opportunity. He really pitched with some poise and I was really impressed.”
Junior Gavin Collins has not been able to hit in the series due to a surgically repaired hand but has played the field at a new position – third base. Collins has only had one error there all fall.
“I think he’s fully capable of making that move,” Cohen said. “He’s playing there a lot because of his hand situation and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll catch as well. But for right now this has been a solution for us to get him on the field.”
Junior Reid Humphreys has only been able to play in one Bulldog World Series game after hyperextending his left elbow running into the wall.
“He’s going to be right back,” Cohen said. “He probably just needs another week and he’ll be back swiging a bat. We got it him out there (on the mound) for an inning yesterday and he topped out at 92 and had an 80-plus mile an hour slider. (Pitching coach) Butch (Thompson) has had a couple of bullpen sessions with him. He really wants to (pitch) and that might be another way that he can help our ballclub.”
The final game of the Bulldog World Series is scheduled for Wednesday at 5 p.m. with a pair of freshmen left-handers taking the mound. Trysten Barlow will be on the bump for Gray while Maroon counters with Konnor Pilkington.