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Dominant starting pitching drives No. 8 Mississippi State to 8-1 win over Kentucky

Bulldogs improve to 18-7.

Sarah Triplett/Mississippi State Athletics

STARKVILLE, Miss. — The No. 8 Mississippi State baseball team ended its four-game Southeastern Conference losing streak with an 8-1 win over Kentucky on Thursday in the first game of a three-game series at Dudy Noble Field.

The Bulldogs (18-7, 3-4 SEC) scored single runs in the first, third, fourth and sixth innings before scoring four runs in the eighth inning. The Wildcats (18-5, 5-2 SEC) scored their lone run in the seventh inning.

MSU starting pitcher Christian MacLeod (3-2) finished off a dominating performance with 11 strikeouts in six innings of work. He allowed just two hits.

Junior Brandon Smith then allowed one run on two hits with two strikeouts and two walks in 1 23 innings. Senior Houston Harding then got the Wildcats to groundout to end the top of the eighth inning. Sophomore Stone Simmons pitched a scoreless ninth inning and struck out two of the five batters he faced.

Freshman starting pitcher Ryan Hagenow (1-1) was charged with the loss for Kentucky after allowing three runs on three hits with five strikeouts and three walks in 3 13 innings of work.

The MSU offense outhit Kentucky 6-5 and was led by sophomore Kamren James with two hits and four RBIs.

The Bulldogs got on the board in the bottom of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Senior Brayland Skinner hit a leadoff double down the left-field line and found himself at third after senior Rowdey Jordan was hit by a pitch and senior Tanner Allen drew a walk. Junior Luke Hancock brought Skinner home with a sacrifice fly.

In the bottom of the third, Jordan reached first after being hit by a pitch. After a strikeout, James singled to put runners on the corners. Jordan scored on anther Hancock sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.

The Bulldogs added one run to their lead in the bottom of the fourth after a walk and two hit batters loaded the bases. James drew a bases-loaded walk to make it a 3-0 ballgame.

Jordan’s home run to right field in the bottom of the sixth increased the MSU lead to 4-0.

In the top of the seventh, Smith got sophomore John Rhodes to hit a grounder for the first out. Graduate student T.J. Collett then reached on a fielding error. After a strikeout, senior Coltyn Kessler hit an infield single and freshman Reuben Church drew a walk to load the bases. A wild pitch plated Collett to make it 4-1.

The Bulldogs then broke the game open in the bottom of the eighth inning by scoring four runs to take a commanding 8-1 lead. Graduate student Scotty Dubrule led off with an infield single before a sacrifice bunt moved him up to second. Skinner reached first on a fielding error to put runners on the corners before another Kentucky fielding error allowed Jordan to reach first and Dubrule to score. Allen drew a walk to load the bases and James followed with a bases-clearing double.

The Wildcats got two runners on base to start the top of the ninth before Simmons fanned the next two batters and got sophomore Ryan Ritter to hit a grounder for the final out,

The Bulldogs and Wildcats will be back in action Friday at 6 p.m. CT for the second game of the series. The game will air on SEC Network.