March 6, 2010
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State broke a 4-4 tie in the fifth inning and then added two more insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth and defeated the Michigan State baseball team, 7-4, on Saturday afternoon in Starkville, Miss., in the BankFirst Challenge. The Spartans are now 5-3 while Mississippi State improved to 6-3.
"I'm proud of the guys for coming back the way they did, but we had some early opportunities today that we didn't capitalize on," said MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr.
Mississippi State grabbed a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, keyed by consecutive RBI doubles from Jaron Shepherd and Jet Butler.
The Spartans quickly responded as they tied the game in the top of the second frame. With Jeff Holm on second, third baseman Andrew Carpenter drove him in with a triple to deep right-center field. Chris Roberts then followed with his second home run of the year to knot the game at three.
Brandon Eckerle gave the Green and White its first lead, 4-3, with a bases-loaded single that scored Ryan Jones. With the bases still packed, the Spartans were in position to put up more runs, but Bulldog reliever Kendrall Graveman got Jonathan Roof to pop out and Holm to then line out and end the threat.
Butler picked up his second RBI of the day to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth inning and then the Bulldogs reclaimed the lead, 5-4, with a fielder's-choice RBI by Connor Powers in the bottom of the fifth.
The Bulldogs then added two more runs in the bottom of the eighth to seal the win.
"Defensively, we didn't make any errors, but we didn't take care of the ball the way we are capable of, and that hurt us," Boss said.
Graveman threw 5.2 innings of relief for Mississippi State to pick up his first win of the year. Ben Bracewell retired the side in the ninth for his first save of the season.
Spartan starting pitcher Kurt Wunderlich allowed five runs, all earned, off seven hits over seven complete innings of work and took his first loss of the season.
Carpenter finished the day 1-for-4, extending his hitting streak to a team-high five games.
The Spartans will close out the double round-robin BankFirst Challenge in Starkville, Miss., with two more games on Sunday against Southeast Missouri and 12 p.m. ET and then with Mississippi State at 3:30 p.m. ET.