Bulldogs top USM 4-3 on 11th-inning wild pitch
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 1:00 PM
PEARL - After 11 innings, 304 pitches and three and a half hours, it ended on a passed ball.
Southern Miss catcher Austin Roussel tosses the ball over the head of MSU's C.T. Bradford. Bradford was tagged out in the run down play between third and home.
Southern Miss pitcher Ryan Milton's first pitch to Ryan Detz with the bases loaded and one out was wild, and skipped past catcher Chuckie Robinson, allowing State's Derrick Armstrong to score easily from third. The run gave designated home team Mississippi State a 4-3 lead for the walk-off win.
Mississippi State needed it. The 17th-ranked Bulldogs (21-13) came in limping after being swept by 16th-ranked LSU, and it looked for a while like their road woes would continue.
Despite watching his team out-hit Southern Miss 10-6 and commit two fewer errors (3-1), Mississippi State skipper John Cohen found the game tied 3-3 at the end of the scheduled nine innings.
"We had so many good offensive situations out there and we didn't cash them in," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "I felt like we left about 10 runs out there. Southern Miss hung in there and hung in there. I thought we pitched it really well and defended the field great, we just had some situational hitting opportunities where we didn't come through and we also made way too many base running mistakes."
Armstrong started the Bulldogs first scoring inning in the second with a single. After stealing second, Gavin Collins singled to left and the ball was misplayed by leftfielder Dylan Burdeaux allowing Armstrong to score.
C.T. Bradford then extended the Bulldog lead an inning later with a run-scoring single to make the score 2-0.
Southern Miss, though, tied the game in the fourth. After Michael Sterling and Tim Lynch singled, Mason Robbins drove in both runs with an infield single to tie the score.
The Bulldogs then went ahead 3-2 on in the bottom of the inning on a double play ground out by Jake Vickerson.
The Golden Eagles tied the score in the eighth on a RBI single from Tim Lynch.
Brett Pirtle led State, going 3-for-4 with three singles. Armstrong and catcher Gavin Collins both added a pair of singles.
Ben Bracewell drew the start, and gave up two runs on four hits with four strikeouts. Brandon Woodruff pitched 3.1 innings of spotless ball in relief.
Cohen didn't waste any time in extra innings, and went to All-American closer Jonathan Holder in the tenth. He gave up one hit, but struck out three and got the win to move to 3-1.
"He's tough," Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. "It's hard to get anything going off of him. He commands that breaking ball so well, and it makes that fastball just giddy-up on you."
The Bulldogs might have looked sloppy to Cohen, but they looked way more refined than the Golden Eagles (19-15), who committed three errors, issued seven walks, plunked two batters, committed a balk and threw one very costly wild pitch.
Southern Miss had won 8 of 10 coming into Tuesday, and must turn its attention to a big Conference USA weekend series against UAB (22-10, 9-3 in C-USA).
"Earlier in the year, we would have shut (the game) down," Berry said. "Right now, we're battling. We're grinding and committing to it. Even after we gave up those runs, we came right back and scrapped. I'm proud, but we've got to do more."
Mississippi State will host another in-state rival, Ole Miss, for a three game series beginning Friday at Dudy Noble Field.