LEXINGTON, Ky. – To say Mississippi State’s bats were hot Sunday afternoon would be an understatement, as the Diamond Dawgs manhandled No. 17 Kentucky 18-8 in the Southeastern Conference series finale Sunday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
With the win, MSU improved to 28-24 (12-15 SEC), while Kentucky fell to 33-18 (13-14 SEC).
The Mississippi State bats got going early with three runs on four hits in the top of the first inning. After Jake Mangum struck out, Rowdey Jordan and Tanner Allen hit back-to-back singles. A wild pitch and throwing error scored Jordan, and Hunter Stovall followed up with an RBI-single. Elijah MacNamee then hit a double to score Stovall to give State a 3-0 lead.
The Diamond Dawgs increased their the lead to 7-0 with four scores in the next inning. Jordan Westburg got the inning going with a single. Mangum followed with a double to score Westburg. Mangum then scored on a single by Jordan. Allen hit a double to score Jordan, and a sac-fly by Stovall scored Allen for the final run of the inning.
Two more runs came across for the Dawgs in the third inning. Justin Foscue hit a leadoff single and Marshall Gilbert reached after a Kentucky error. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and then scored on a double by Westburg.
The Wildcats broke the shutout in the third inning after Trey Dawson hit a solo home run to left center to make it 9-1 in the Dawg’s favor.
Another Wildcat error in the fifth inning allowed State to push the lead to 10-1. Gilbert singled and scored after a wild pitch and a throwing error.
An RBI-single by Gilbert and a two-run double by Westburg fueled a four-run sixth inning to give MSU a 14-1 lead,
Kentucky scored four runs in the sixth inning, led by a two-run home run from Brayden Combs, and three in the eighth inning to make it a 14-8 Dawg lead.
State came back for four runs of their own in the ninth inning for a game-clinching lead of 18-8. After a Westburg double, Mangum singled to score him. Jordan reached via walk and Allen reached on a hit-by-pitch. MacNamee doubled to score Mangum and Jordan and Luke Alexander singled to score the final run of the game.
MSU finished with 20 hits, while Kentucky tallied 12. Westburg finished with a team-high four hits and four RBIs to lead the Dawgs. MacNamee and Mangum each had three hits, while Jordan, Allen, Stovall and Gilbert had added two hits apiece.
Jacob Billingsley (4-3) earned the win while 5.2 innings. He five runs, all earned, on eight hits. He added a new career-high of 11 strikeouts.
Zach Neff finished the sixth inning and pitched in the seventh inning before handing the came to Cole Gordon with one out in the eighth inning. Gordon finished the game.
Kentucky’s starter, Brad Schaenzer (1-2), failed to get out of the opening inning. He allowed three runs, all earned, on four hits.
State will be back in Starkville next week for the regular season finale. The Dawgs are set for a three-game SEC series against defending national champion Florida. The series at Dudy Noble Field will begin Thursday at 6:30 p.m. CT.