May 15—STARKVILLE — Mississippi State has thrived in late innings all season, but the Bulldogs’ bullpen couldn’t hold the lead against the worst team in the SEC on Friday night.
Missouri beat No. 3 Mississippi State, 7-6, at Dudy Noble Field to tie up the weekend series. The MSU bullpen allowed four runs in four innings and gave up the game-winning run in the top of the ninth inning.
The loss likely takes Mississippi State (36-12, 17-9) out of the SEC championship race. The Bulldogs are now two games behind Arkansas for first place and only have four games left to make up the deficit.
“This is probably the one that hurts the most this year because we know what is at stake,” senior outfielder Tanner Allen said. “Tomorrow is a new day and we still have a chance to win the series. But we have to come out and we have to play better baseball.”
Missouri (13-33, 6-19) led 2-0 early, but Allen and the Mississippi State offense took a lead with a four-run third inning, highlighted by Allen’s two-run triple and a Logan Tanner RBI single.
The Bulldogs added a fifth run in the fourth inning on a RBI double from Rowdey Jordan, and MSU starter Will Bednar exited the game after five innings with Mississippi State ahead, 5-3.
Cam Tullar replaced Bednar on the mound, and he gave up a single and hit a batter to lead off the sixth. After getting an out, Parker Stinnett took over on the mound. Stinnett walked a batter to load the bases, then allowed a Missouri run on a wild pitch.
After an RBI groundout tied the game, Andrew Keefer put Missouri ahead, 6-5, with a RBI single.
“It was probably strikes and command,” Lemonis said of the bullpen issues. “A couple of times there late, we are calling breaking balls in the dirt and the breaking ball is out over the plate with two strikes and they’re getting hits. Us not being able to locate is probably the biggest thing.”
Mississippi State tied the game on a solo home run from Kellum Clark in the bottom of the sixth, and the game stayed tied until the top of the ninth.
With Stone Simmons on the mound, Missouri rattled off three singles, including a RBI single from Joshua Day, to take a 7-6 lead. Mississippi State went three up, three down in the bottom of the ninth.
Game 3 is on Saturday at 1 p.m. Lemonis said he has not decided on a starting pitcher yet.