By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Tennessee had played 30 error-free innings against Mississippi State heading into the bottom of the 12th on Sunday.
But that’s when things unraveled for the Volunteers defensively. Two throwing errors and an intentional walk loaded the bases with no outs putting pressure on reliever Andrew Lee.
Lee walked Cody Walker on five pitches forcing in the winning run and handed the Bulldogs a 4-3 victory and the weekend series.
“This is a crazy game and certainly we’d have liked to ended it earlier,” said MSU skipper John Cohen. “We just kept hanging in there and found a way to win. We’re 6-0 in extra-inning ballgames and that says a lot about our seniors.”
MSU (33-19, 16-11 SEC) won the final two games of the series in extra innings.
The Diamond Dogs trailed 3-1 until Wes Rea’s two-run homer to left tied things up. It was Rea’s team-leading fourth long ball this season but his first since Feb. 22.
“He’d made a decision that he was going to get the barrel head out front and get it in position,” Cohen said. “It was a line drive. If he’d have gotten underneath that ball, there’s no telling how far that ball would’ve gone. He gave himself a chance and I’m just so happy he did it. If he doesn’t take that swing we don’t win that ballgame.”
State had seven hits, including doubles by Alex Detz and Daniel Garner.
Jacob Lindgren (4-1) picked up the win logging 51⁄3 innings of shutout relief. Lindgren struck out eight and gave up just three hits.
“This meant a lot to our seniors,” Lindgren said. “This could’ve been their last time playing here, you never know.”
Lindgren piggybacked off Lucas Laster’s strong relief outing. Laster lasted 52⁄3 shutout frames with five strikeouts, giving up three hits and two walks. Starter Preston Brown lasted just one inning, giving up two earned runs.
Tennessee (29-20, 11-16) had nine hits on the afternoon led by Taylor Smart, who was 2-for-4 with a solo homer.
Christin Stewart was also 2-for-4 with a double and Will Maddox went 2-for-6 with two singles.
Lee (4-3) suffered the loss. He went 32⁄3 innings, giving up one run on one hit with two walks and two strikeouts.
The Bulldogs return to action Thursday at Alabama for the regular-season series finale.
The SEC tourney begins on May 20 in Hoover, Ala.