HOOVER, Ala. | Recapping MSU’s 2-1 win over Kentucky in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament at Regions Park on Saturday.
• The buzz: The Bulldogs (38-22) just keep on winning, for the fourth time in five days here. They advance to the title game for the first time since 2005, when MSU beat Ole Miss. Yet another strong collective pitching effort carried the day and maintained that one-run lead for the final seven innings. The win was MSU’s fourth of the season over Kentucky (43-16), the first time in nine years State has defeated a team four times in one season.
• Big inning:Adam Frazier, he was bunted to second and later scored on Trey Porter‘s single to center field with two outs. Porter was 1 of 15 at the plate this week prior to that at-bat.
• Key stats: Each team left nine men on base. MSU stranded three in scoring position, while UK stranded five, including a man at third in the ninth inning. … MSU committed two errors, but neither led to scoring for Kentucky.
• MSU at the plate: MSU had eight hits. … Frazier had two hits, and he’s now 11 of 20 in this tournament. … State took a 1-0 lead in the second when Demarcus Henderson, who had a leadoff single, was singled home by Wes Rea with one out.
• Kentucky at the plate: UK had nine hits. … Thomas McCarthy had two hits, giving him six in two games vs. MSU this week. … J.T. Riddle had three hits, including a game-tying solo homer in the second. … UK didn’t get a leadoff man on until the seventh inning.
• MSU on the mound: Reliever Nick Routt (3-5) got the win with 3 1/3 innings of shutout ball. He allowed three hits, struck out four and walked none. Routt had a big inning-ending strikeout of A.J. Reed, the first batter he faced upon entering in the fifth, and he got McCarthy to fly out to end the seventh with a man on second. … Jonathan Holder, who we learned has been nicknamed “The Truth” by teammates, tossed the ninth for his ninth save total and third this week. … Starter Luis Pollorena lasted two-plus innings, and Ben Bracewell went 2 2/3 after that.
• Kentucky on the mound: Starter Corey Littrell (8-2) has lost twice to MSU in a week’s time. He allowed two runs on six hits in six innings, fanning six and walking two. … Taylor Rogers, normally a starter, threw 2 2/3 shutout innings, and Trevor Gott got the last out of the ninth.
• Bottom line: This team, mentally worn out two days ago when it lost to Kentucky, 5-1, has found a second wind. The bats, outside of Frazier, continue to struggle, but as Routt said after the game, this pitching staff is built for tournament play. The Bulldogs face Vanderbilt (33-25) at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
• Quotable: “They’re so used to hanging in those one-run games. We’ve played a ton of them.” – MSU coach John Cohen