FINAL: MSU 4, No. 4 Kentucky 3 (Game 2)

Recapping MSU’s 4-3 win over No. 4 Kentucky at Dudy Noble Field on Friday.

The buzz: MSU (33-21, 15-14 SEC) captured the series thanks to a strong collective pitching effort and the first career home run for Daryl Norris. Kentucky (41-14, 18-11) had some chances but still hasn’t figured out how to score in this ballpark, having totaled four runs in two games now. The Bulldogs are now tied for second in the Western Division with Arkansas, and tied for fifth overall with the Hogs and Vanderbilt.

Big inning: UK led 2-1 in the fourth, but MSU got two men on base, as Sam Frost singled to right field with two outs. Then Norris stepped in and smashed a Jerad Grundy fastball well over the wall in left for a 4-2 lead.

Key stats: MSU stranded 12 runners, including nine over the final four innings. … MSU was 4 of 13 hitting with two outs. … State’s leadoff man reached base in five of eight innings; UK’s did so in three of nine innings.

MSU at the plate: State had nine hits. … Adam Frazier had two hits for his 24th multi-hit game of the season. … MSU tied it 1-1 in the second when Mitch Slauter tripled and scored on Brent Brownlee‘s single. … Tyler Fullerton was the only MSU starter not to get a hit.

Kentucky at the plate: The Wildcats had seven hits. … Austin Cousino was hit-by-pitch twice. … Michael Williams had two hits, including an RBI double in the first to score Cousino, who’d led off with a double. … UK scored once each in the fourth and fifth innings.

MSU on the mound: Starter Kendall Graveman was not himself, lasting 3 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits. The groundball pitcher had just four groundballs – one a bunt – against 18 batters. … Nick Routt gave up a run in 1/3 inning. … Luis Pollorena (4-0) tossed two shutout innings for the win. He struck out two, walked none and allowed no hits. … Caleb Reed and Ross Mitchell each tossed a shutout inning, as did Jonathan Holder to earn his sixth save.

Kentucky on the mound: Grundy (4-3) allowed four runs (all earned) on four hits in 4 2/3 innings. He fanned five and walked three. … Alex Phillips and Tim Peterson combined for 3 1/3 shutout innings with five hits.

Bottom line: Winning the series is obviously huge, but the players sounded just as motivated in postgame to get the sweep and finish on a really high note. MSU has put itself in position to get a good SEC Tournament seed. While the offense still has issues, it’s starting to get some clutch hits and easing the pressure a little on the pitching staff. The Bulldogs are hitting .279 this series; coming in, they were at .218 in league play.

Quotable: “I honestly had no idea what to do when I hit it. But it felt good just to hit something hard after struggling for so long.” – Norris, on his home run

Videos: For Norris, CLICK HERE; for Pollorena, CLICK HERE; for Slauter, CLICK HERE; for Holder, CLICK HERE; for John Cohen, CLICK HERE.