Powers walkoff homer lifts Diamond Dogs to win in BankFirst Challenge opener

By Miss. State Media Relations

STARKVILLE – Connor Powers’ three-run walk-off home run lifted Mississippi State past Southeast Missouri 10-7 in the second contest of the 2010 MSU BankFirst Baseball Challenge Friday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.

The Bulldogs snapped a three-game losing streak by winning in their final at-bat for a third time this season. Ironically, it is the second time this year MSU closed business with a Powers’ home run. MSU improved to 5-3, while Southeast Missouri lost both games in Friday’s tournament play to fall to 4-5.

“We did so many things wrong tonight and still found a way to win,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “We aren’t doing things in the game that we are doing in practice. We aren’t firing on all cylinders yet so we need to improve.”

The Bulldogs sprinted to an early advantage Friday. A two-run single by Powers placed the hosts ahead 3-0 after two innings.

The Redhawks rallied with four runs in the third inning. Again, an infield error opened the door as SEMO plated three unearned scores in that at-bat. Quickly, MSU answered with a three-run home run by Cody Freeman running the Bulldogs to a 6-4 advantage after four innings of play.

SEMO answered with two scores in the sixth inning. After a leadoff hit batsman, Casey Jones ripped an RBI-triple. An infield out plated Jones with the game-tying run.

Things stayed tied until the Redhawks grabbed a 7-6 lead on an RBI-double by Kody Campbell in the eighth inning.

The Bulldogs then staged the first of their two escapes. Freeman began the inning with a leadoff single. After a failed bunt attempt and a flyout, Jaron Shepherd followed with a hit to center field. The throw back in by the center fielder went over the third baseman’s head allowing pinch-runner Nick Vickerson to score the game-tying run.

In the tenth inning, Luke Adkins and Jonathan Ogden each drew walks before Powers connected for his fifth home run of the year – a no-doubter to the Left Field lounge.

Greg Houston (2-0) pitched the final 2.1 innings to earn the win. Caleb Reed threw 4.2 innings of middle relief, following starter Nick Routt. Reed allowed fours and three runs (all earned). Houston threw one-hit shutout relief.

“Caleb pitched an excellent game for us,” Cohen said. “He made a few mistakes but I am still pleased with his outing.”

Trent Wise (0-2) began the final inning and took the loss for the Redhawks.

MSU finished with seven hits. Freeman had a team-best three hits, while Powers had two hits and matched a career-high with six RBIs.

SEMO finished with 10 hits. Jones had three hits for the Redhawks, while Kenton Parmley and Blake Slattery had multiple hits for the Redhawks.

In Friday’s opening game, Michigan State defeated Southeast Missouri, 8-7 in 11 innings.

Tournament play resumes Saturday with MSU playing Michigan State at 11 a.m. and MSU playing Southeast Missouri again at 2 p.m.