Bulldogs storm back to finish sweep of Missouri

Published 11:31 am Monday, April 21, 2014

Mississippi State's Jake Vickerson breaks out of the batter's box after flying out in the third inning of Sunday's game against Missouri. MSU won in 11 innings, 9-7, to complete a three-game sweep. (Bill Simmonds/Mississippi State Sports Information)

Mississippi State’s Jake Vickerson breaks out of the batter’s box after flying out in the third inning of Sunday’s game against Missouri. MSU won in 11 innings, 9-7, to complete a three-game sweep. (Bill Simmonds/Mississippi State Sports Information)

Mississippi State proved Sunday that good things sometimes take a little extra effort.

Freshman Reid Humphreys delivered a go-ahead, two-run single in the top of the 11th inning, and the Bulldogs went on to beat Missouri 9-7 to complete a three-game sweep.

Two of the Bulldogs’ three wins in the series came in extra innings. In the other, they broke open a tie game with four runs in the last three innings.

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The sweep helped Mississippi State (26-15, 10-8 Southeastern Conference) shrug off a recent slide in league play. It had lost two consecutive series, and five of its last six SEC games coming into the series with Missouri.

“We really needed something good to happen,” Mississippi State coach John Cohen said. “I would be distraught to be in the other dugout and to lose two 11-inning games. In this league, it comes down to the little things. Most games are a coin flip when the league is this bunched. We feel fortunate. It was really important to come out and get the third game, even though we had won the series.”

Ryan Howard hit a two-run double during a four-run Missouri rally in the fifth inning, and Dylan Kelly added an RBI double in the sixth to put the Tigers (17-21, 6-12) ahead 7-3.

Howard finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored, Josh Lester had two hits and scored two runs, and Logan Pearson went 4-for-6 with two runs scored.

Mississippi State, thouugh, chipped away at the deficit in the ensuing innings.

Seth Heck had an RBI single in the seventh inning, Demarcus Henderson an RBI double in the eighth, then C.T. Bradford delivered a two-run single with one out in the ninth to tie the score.

Each team left runners on in the 10th, then State broke through in the 11th. Two walks set the stage for Humphreys, who brought in the go-ahead runs with his second hit of the game.

“I was just really going up there looking for something to hit. I guess I got lucky,” Humphreys said.

Humphreys was 2-for-3 for the Bulldogs, and was one of six players with more than one hit. Brett Pirtle went 3-for-6 with three runs scored, Bradford was 2-for-4 with three RBIs, and Mathhew Britton had three hits.

Pirtle doubled and homered.

“Everybody kept battling the whole game,” Cohen said. “You have a guy like Reid Humphreys who just waits patiently for his opportunity and then delivers. C.T. Bradford had clutch at-bat after clutch at-bat. Matthew Britton has three hits. That will do wonders for his confidence. It was like a heavyweight fight. It was just a matter of who was going to fall over first.”

Ben Bracewell got the win for Mississippi State, holding the line after starter Brandon Woodruff was hit hard for five runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Bracewell (3-3) allowed one run on five hits during a six-inning relief stint. He walked two and struck out seven. It was Bracewell’s second-longest outing of the season.

Bracewell left the game after giving up a double to Pearson in the bottom of the 11th. Jacob Lindgren got the final out for his third save of the season.

“We just asked Ben to go out there and throw up some zeroes,” Cohen said, “We wanted him to give our offense a chance and he was magnificent.”

Mississippi State will return to action Tuesday night at 6:30, against Ole Miss in the annual Governor’s Cup game at Trustmark Park in Pearl.

The Bulldogs then have a quick turnaround for their next SEC series. They’ll host Texas A&M in the opener of a three-game set Thursday night.

Thursday’s game will be televised on ESPNU.