By Logan Lowery
HOOVER, Ala. – Mississippi State’s magic finally ran out in the early morning hours of Friday.
No. 9 seed Kentucky outlasted the Bulldogs 7-6 in 12 innings to remain in the winner’s bracket of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The Wildcats loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the 12th inning and walked off victorious on a chopper to shortstop by pinch hitter Zach Arnold, ending the four hour, 36-minute affair.
“We really competed hard in this marathon game,” said MSU coach John Cohen. “It comes down to a couple of plays when you’re in these extra-inning deals. I thought we put ourselves in a pretty good position a couple of times but didn’t hit situationally the way that we wanted to.”
The Bulldogs held the lead on four different occasions only to watch UK battle back to tie the score each time.
It was MSU’s first extra-inning loss in eight games this season. The Diamond Dogs dropped to 37-21 overall and fall into the loser’s bracket to face Florida in an elimination game at approximately 6:30 p.m. today on CSS.
The Wildcats receive a bye until Saturday’s semifinals.
“It’s tough to come away with a loss because that was a big game right there,” said MSU closer Jonathan Holder. “Our defense played their tails off tonight and our offense was great. It just didn’t roll our way this time, but I think we battled real well.”
Each team finished with 16 hits in the contest, with the Wildcats overcoming four fielding errors. Mississippi State had a runner thrown out at the plate in the 10th and 12th innings.
Matt Reida led UK at the plate, going 4-for-6 with two doubles, while Gavin Collins paced the Bulldogs with a 4-for-5 performance and an RBI.
Spencer Jack (4-1) picked up the win for the Wildcats, tossing four innings of relief and allowing no earned runs on four hits with a strikeout. Preston Brown (4-3) took the loss for MSU, giving up a run on two hits with two walks and a strikeout.
Cohen mentioned Brown, Brandon Woodruff and Ben Bracewell as potential starting pitchers for Friday. Bracewell and Brown pitched in relief of Ross Mitchell on Thursday.