By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Daryl Norris found his power stroke Friday night, and Mississippi State is poised for a big finish.
A three-run home run by Norris boosted MSU to a 4-3 win over No. 4 Kentucky at Dudy Noble Field. The Bulldogs (33-21, 15-14 SEC) will go for the sweep at 2 p.m. today.
State trailed 2-1 in the fourth inning when Norris, a sophomore third baseman who’s been battling a knee injury most of the season, launched a Jerad Grundy pitch over the left-field wall for a three-run homer.
It was the first career homer for Norris.
“I honestly had no idea what to do when I hit it,” he said. “But it felt good just to hit something hard after struggling for so long.”
After that long ball, MSU stranded nine runners over the next four innings, 12 for the game. Kentucky (41-14, 18-11), which lost its spot atop the Eastern Division standings, made some noise in the fifth and sixth innings, but reliever Luis Pollorena kept the Wildcats at bay.
The left-hander tossed two shutout innings to improve to 4-0 on the year. With two outs in the sixth, Pollorena thought his 3-2 pitch to Austin Cousino was a strike, but the umpire ruled that it hit the batter’s leg.
Pollorena said Cousino was “chirping” at him during the at-bat, but he shook it off to strike out Brian Adams.
“You know what they say about us Mexicans: You don’t want to mess with us any time,” Pollorena said.
MSU starter Kendall Graveman gave up a pair of doubles in the first inning as UK grabbed a 1-0 lead. MSU tied it in the second when Mitch Slauter tripled and then scored on Brent Brownlee’s single.
Graveman lasted 32/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and leaving with Kentucky up 2-1.
Four relievers bridged the gap to Jonathan Holder, who pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save overall and second of the series.
Adam Frazier had two hits for State.