By Staff reports
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Mississippi State freshman right-hander Ben Bracewell retired the side in order in the ninth inning as the Bulldogs held off a late South Carolina rally for an 8-7 SEC win at Carolina Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs evened the weekend series at a game apiece. For MSU, it was their first win in the Carolina since taking the middle game of a series in 2006. The Bulldogs can make it back-to-back series wins from Carolina with a win in Sunday’s series finale, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
With the victory, MSU improved to 15-12 (3-5 SEC), while No. 12 USC fell to 21-6 (6-2).
MSU sprinted out of the gates early, staking right-handed freshman Chris Stratton, a Tupelo native, to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Luke Adkins opened the game with a single, while Jet Butler followed with a double to right field. Ryan Collins connected for a two-run double down the left field line. Ryan Duffy hit a sacrifice-fly to close out the scoring for the inning.
The Bulldogs plated single scores in both the second and third innings, stretching the advantage to 5-1.
Stratton (3-3) allowed eight hits and three runs (all earned), with five walks and two strikeouts. He was relieved in the sixth inning by Chad Girodo after Whit Merrifield hit a solo home run to start the USC sixth inning, making the score 6-3.
MSU expanded the lead in the seventh and eighth innings by tacking on three critical runs. Cody Freeman had a run-producing single in the MSU seventh inning. An inning later, Jet Butler had a sacrifice-fly and Collins had an RBI-single.
The Gamecocks opened the eighth inning with three straight singles and MSU’s only error in the contest.