STARKVILLE, Miss. — The No. 7 Mississippi State baseball team fell to Northern Kentucky 7-6 on Friday in the opening game of a three-game series at Dudy Noble Field.
The Bulldogs (2-3, 0-0 SEC) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning, but the Norse (1-3, 0-0 Horizon League) answered with three runs in the top of the third inning and led the rest of the way.
Freshman Hunter Hines led MSU with a 2-for-5 performance with a home run, a triple, two runs scored and an RBI. Senior Tanner Leggett went 1-for-4 and drove in two runs.
Junior right-handed pitcher Landon Sims (0-2) was charged with the loss after allowing four runs (one earned) on six hits in five innings pitched. He struck out four batters and walked two.
The Norse were led by junior Manny Vorhees, who went 3-for-5 with two doubles, two runs scored and one RBI. Senior Ryan Glass went 1-for-4 with a double and two runs driven in.
Junior righty Kyle Klingenbeck (1-1) started on the mound for Northern Kentucky and earned the win after allowing three runs (all earned) on three hits in six innings of work. He fanned five batters and walked two.
In the bottom of the second inning, Hines led off with a triple. He scored on an RBI groundout from graduate student RJ Yeager to make it 1-0. Senior Brad Cumbest was then hit by a pitch and advanced to second when sophomore Kellum Clark drew a walk. Leggett’s RBI single to center field made it 2-0.
Sophomore Liam McFadden-Ack began the top of the third inning by reaching first on an error. Senior Brennan Gick’s bunt then put runners on first and second with no outs. After a popout and a strikeout followed, an RBI single by Vorhees and a two-RBI double by Glass put the Norse ahead 3-2.
Northern Kentucky added a run to its lead in the top of the fifth inning to make it 4-2. Sophomore Brandon Tucker led off with a single. After a lineout, Vorhees doubled down the left-field line to put runners on second and third. An RBI groundout plated Tucker.
In the top of the sixth inning, McFadden-Ack singled to left field and made his way to second when junior Logan Tanner’s throw went into center field. A wild pitch allowed him to advance to third before Tucker’s RBI single made it a 5-2 ballgame.
In the bottom half, Hines homered to right-center field to make it 5-3.
Vorhees led off the top of the seventh inning with a double down the left-field line. After a pair of strikeouts, senior Noah Fisher was hit by a pitch. A single from junior John Odom then loaded the bases before two runs scored on bases-loaded walks to increase Northern Kentucky’s lead to 7-3.
The Bulldogs’ comeback attempt began in the bottom of the seventh inning when junior Drew McGowan drew a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Junior Kamren James also drew a walk and both runners moved up when senior righty Nick Noble’s attempted pickoff went into center field. An RBI groundout from Tanner made it 7-4.
MSU then cut the deficit to just one run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Yeager and junior Matt Corder drew back-to-back walks before junior Von Seibert singled to load the bases. A fielder’s choice scored Corder before a wild patch scored the other run to make it 7-6.
MSU’s comeback attempt came up short as Tanner, Hines and Yeager were sent down in order to end the game.
The Bulldogs will look to even the series Saturday at 2 p.m. CT on SEC Network+.