STARKVILLE, Miss. — The No. 5 Mississippi State baseball team failed to complete the Southeastern Conference sweep over South Carolina Saturday afternoon, dropping the series finale 10-8 at Dudy Noble Field.
However, MSU (45-11. 20-10 SEC) did earn a share of the SEC West Division title on the final day of the regular season, finishing tied atop the division standings with Arkansas. The 30 home wins are tied for the most in a regular season home victories with the 2013 MSU baseball team.
South Carolina (28-27, 8-22 SEC) never trailed in the game, taking a 1-0 lead in the first before plating three runs in the fifth, four runs in the seventh and two runs in the eighth.
After a pair of strikeouts from starting pitcher Peyton Plumlee began the game, sophomore Andrew Eyster sent a ball over the left field fence to give the Gamecocks a 1-0 lead. MSU would tie the game in the bottom of the fourth inning when sophomore Justin Foscue hit a solo home run to lead of the inning.
The Gamecocks regained the lead in the fifth inning with three runs on five hits. A triple from freshman Brady Allen followed by an RBI single from junior George Calil made it a 2-1 game. A sacrifice bunt moved him to second before a single up the middle from senior TJ Hopkins scored him. Back-to-back singles from Eyster and redshirt-sophomore Luke Berryhill scored the final run of the inning.
A leadoff fielding error and a two-out intentional walk put two runners on base for South Carolina to begin the top of the seventh inning. Berryhill then hit a three-run home run to left field. Senior Jacob Olson then doubled before another double from freshman Wes Clarke brought him home.
State got a pair of runs back in the botto half of the seventh thanks to three hits in the inning. Senior Marshall Gilbert started the inning off with a single through the left side. He then moved to second on a wild pitch and came in to score on a single from senior Jake Mangum. Sophomore Jordan Westburg then reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to second on a wild pitch, before sophomore Tanner Allen doubled to score him.
The Gamecocks scored two runs in the eighth inning when Hopkins drew a two-out walk and Eyster followed with a two-run homer to center field to give South Carolina a 10-3 lead.
MSU began a comeback in the bottom of eighth inning when the Dawgs scored four runs on five hits to make it a 10-7 ballgame. Back-to-back singles from junior Dustin Skelton and sophomore Rowdey Jordan began the inning. Freshman Luke Hancock then worked a one-out walk to load the bases. Gilbert followed with a two-RBI single. Back-to-back RBI singles from Westburg and Allen with two outs capped the scoring.
Needing three runs to stay alive in the bottom of the ninth, the first two batters were sent down via strikeout before freshman Landon Jordan worked a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Hancock followed with an RBI single up the middle, before the final out was recorded via strikeout.
Offensively, MSU outhit the Gamecocks 13-12. Allen continued to hit the ball well, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Gilbert also showcased valuable contribution, finishing with three hits, one run scored and two RBIs. Foscue joined them with multiple hits, tallying two hits on four plate appearances to go with one RBI and one run.
Plumlee (5-4) tossed 4 2⁄3 innings. He allowed four runs on five hits to go with three strikeouts and one walk. Five relief pitchers also pitched for State.
Freshman right-hander Brett Kerry (4-1) earned the win for South Carolina. He allowed two runs on five hits in 6 1⁄3 innings of work. He fanned four batters and walked three.
The Dawgs will now head to Hoover, Alabama for the SEC Tournament. The fourth-seeded Diamond Dawgs will begin play in the final game of the day on Wednesday, facing the winner of the LSU/South Carolina game on Tuesday.