MSU edges Kentucky to take series victory

Published 11:27 pm Friday, May 18, 2012

Kentucky is going to leave Mississippi and head to the Southeastern Conference Tournament feeling blue.

Daryl Norris hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning, which proved to be the difference as Mississippi State beat Kentucky 4-3 Friday night. The Bulldogs won the series from the Wildcats with the victory, and will head into next week’s SEC Tournament with some momentum.

The regular-season finale is today in Starkville at 2 p.m. Mississippi State (33-21, 15-14 SEC) can still finish anywhere from the No. 5 to the No. 9 seed, depending on the outcome of today’s games.

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Kentucky (41-14, 18-11) is in a four-way battle with South Carolina, Florida and LSU for the top seed that will also be decided today.

Norris’ home run gave Mississippi State a 4-2 lead, and the pitching staff took it from there. Five relievers combined to allow just one run in 51⁄3 innings. Nick Routt was the pitcher of record when Norris went deep, and got the win. Jonathan Holder worked the ninth for his sixth save of the season.

MSU starter Kendall Graveman lasted just 32⁄3 innings. He gave up two runs on five hits, walked none and struck out two. He was pulled in the top of the fourth inning after giving up an RBI ground out to Matt Reida that gave Kentucky a 2-1 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth, Brent Brownlee reached base on a fielder’s choice and Sam Frost singled. Norris then drove a 2-1 pitch over the left field wall to give Mississippi State the lead for good.

Kentucky got a run back in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by J.T. Riddle but didn’t get a runner past first base the rest of the game.

Mississippi State relievers Luis Pollorena, Caleb Reed, Ross Mitchell and Holder allowed one base runner over the last four innings.