By JOEL COLEMAN
Mississippi State history was made at Dudy Noble Field on Saturday. Unfortunately for MSU, the occasion wasn’t much to celebrate.
In the longest nine-inning game in school history, Mississippi State fell to Georgia 11-8. The contest lasted 4 hours and 52 minutes and featured 22 combined walks and 408 total pitches. When all was said and done, Georgia was able to salvage the final matchup of this weekend’s three-game set and prevent Mississippi State’s first sweep of a Southeastern Conference opponent in nearly two years.
“Having the opportunity to sweep somebody just doesn’t happen a lot in our league if you look around,” Mississippi State head coach John Cohen said. “We had that opportunity and just let it get away from us.”
Jacob Robson had four hits for Mississippi State and drove in a pair of runs, but MSU’s pitching was unable to back up Robson and the rest of the offense.
Daniel Brown took the loss for Mississippi State after entering in the fifth inning and going 3 2/3 innings, allowing two hits, five walks and four runs.
Bo Tucker earned the win for Georgia with 4 1/3 innings of work in which he gave up only one run on four hits. Tucker walked three and struck out two.
Georgia took the lead for good against Brown in the eighth inning. With the game tied 5-5, Georgia loaded the bases with two outs. Brown then walked L.J. Talley to push across a run. MSU immediately relieved Brown with Zac Houston, who surrendered a softly hit single to the right side off the bat of Logan Moody that scored two more Georgia runs to make it 8-5.
“I thought Houston made a great pitch and the hitter stops his swing, checks his swing and drives in two runs,” Cohen said. “Those things happen. They are tough things to battle through but you can’t make excuses. It’s a great Georgia team and you can’t throw as many non-competitive pitches in the strike zone as we did (Saturday).”
Georgia added three more runs in the ninth to extend its lead to 11-5. Stephen Wrenn had an RBI single and Talley had a two-run double in the frame.
MSU didn’t go down without a fight. Mississippi State put up a three-spot of its own in the bottom of the ninth and was just one baserunner away from bringing the tying run to the plate when Nathaniel Lowe struck out to end the game.
“We just try to keep punching every inning offensively,” Robson said.
Cohen said MSU’s failed comeback attempt could all be traced back to struggles on the mound earlier in the contest.
“I’m really proud of the way our kids fought back at the end,” Cohen said. “But we obviously didn’t throw enough strikes.”
Until Georgia surged ahead in the eighth, the game had multiple twists and turns. Georgia took a 1-0 lead in the third when Kale Breaux hit Talley with a pitch while the bases were loaded. Mississippi State answered right back with an RBI double from Lowe and a run-scoring groundout from Reid Humphreys in the bottom of the inning to put MSU up 2-1.
After Georgia tied the game at two apiece in the fourth on a Skyler Weber double, Reid Humphreys added a two-run double of his own in the last half of the frame to give MSU a 4-2 edge.
Georgia evened the score in the fifth on back-to-back solo home runs from Trevor Kieboom and Talley. Robson gave Mississippi State a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI single.
In the sixth, Georgia got a sacrifice fly from Keegan McGovern to knot the game at 5-5. No one would score again until Georgia’s eighth-inning rally against Brown and Houston that sent Mississippi State towards its only loss of the weekend.
Still, MSU exits the three games against Georgia having won its first two SEC series of the season.
“Winning a series in the SEC is a big deal regardless of the opponent,” Robson said. “We did a really good job on Thursday and Friday. (Saturday) things just didn’t go our way. Tough loss, but we’re going to move on from it.”
Mississippi State will return to action on Tuesday in Pearl. MSU will battle instate foe Southern Miss in a 6:30 p.m. game at Trustmark Park, the home of the Mississippi Braves.
“We’ll let our kids have a day of rest on Easter and let them spend that with their families,” Cohen said. “I know they’ll enjoy that. Then Monday, we’ll get right back to work and battle a very, very good Southern Miss team down in Pearl on Tuesday.”