By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Russ Sneed found his stroke, Ben Bracewell found his pitch, and Mississippi State found its first SEC win of the season.
Behind Sneed’s three hits and the freshman Bracewell’s steely nerves, the Bulldogs (13-9, 1-3 SEC) pulled out a 9-8 comeback win over Georgia on Friday night at Dudy Noble Field.
It was the second game in a row MSU erased an early deficit. It dug out of a 5-1 hole in Wednesday’s 7-6 win over Memphis, and on Friday night the Bulldogs found themselves trailing 7-1 after a six-run fourth inning by Georgia (8-14, 0-4).
“I don’t think there was any doubt in anybody’s mind when we got down, what was it, 7-1, I didn’t think there was any doubt in anybody’s mind,” said Sneed, a senior who entering the game was hitting .217.
A six-run fifth by MSU tied the game at 7-7, and Sneed gave State an 8-7 lead in the sixth with an RBI single.
Georgia tied it up, but a wild pitch scored Connor Powers in the eighth for the final tally.
Then it was Bracewell time.
The young right-hander loaded the bases with one out but got a strikeout and groundout to earn his third save of the season.
He also had the save against Memphis.
“That was not the Bracewell that we saw Wednesday night, but that just shows you the kind of competitor he is,” MSU coach John Cohen said.
With his fastball not working, Bracewell threw his slider eight consecutive times to end the game. A few chats from junior catcher Cody Freeman, who entered in the eighth, helped.
“He kept talking to me, just trying to work me through the inning,” Bracewell said. “It was a little nerve-wracking.”
Devin Jones (2-1) got four outs – all strikeouts – to get the win in relief. Cecil Tanner (1-2) took the loss.
MSU starter Kendall Graveman’s night ended with the bases loaded and nobody out in the fourth. He yielded five runs on five hits with two walks and one strikeout.
Game 2 is at 2 p.m. today. Chris Stratton (2-2, 2.63 ERA), a freshman from Tupelo, will start for MSU.