Middle innings undermine No. 8 Kentucky in first series loss since opening weekend

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State erased an early three-run deficit for the second straight day, sending No. 8 Kentucky to its first series loss since opening weekend of the season at then-No. 12 North Carolina with a 10-6 decision at Dudy Noble Field.

The Wildcats (22-11, 8-4 SEC) got out of the gates quickly again, scoring four runs in the first two innings to take a 4-1 lead but were stymied after that as the No. 19 Bulldogs (22-12, 8-4) gained momentum in the middle innings. State tied the game in the fourth and added three runs in both the sixth and seventh innings to take command.

UK had won five consecutive three-game weekend series coming into the weekend and took Friday night’s opener before State, which had won six straight SEC games entering the series, responded by getting its offense going. The Cats now return home for a midweek game against UT Martin after having completed a stretch where 13 of 15 games came against ranked foes, including seven on the road.

The bottom third of the order did the damage for Mississippi State, reaching base six times, scoring four runs and setting the table for the top of the lineup. Jake Mangum, who started on the mound, had a two-run triple and pinch hitter Harrison Bragg hit his first home run of the season in place of Mangum in the seventh.

Tristan Pompey continued his torrid weekend with a career-high-tying four hits, clubbing two doubles and a pair of singles , while Zach Reks added a pair of hits and two RBI and Luke Becker mashed a pinch hit, two-run home run in the eighth.

SCORING

Top 1st – Tristan Pompey doubled off the LCF wall. Zach Reks doubled off the first baseman’s glove, advancing Pompey to third. Kole Cottam lined a single to RCF, scoring Pompey and moving Reks to third. UK 1, Miss. State 0.

Bottom 1st – Brent Rooker doubled to LF and advanced to third on Ryan Gridley’s soft double to CF. Rooker scored on Cody Brown’s infield single. UK 1, Miss. State 1.

Top 2nd – Troy Squires doubled into the LF corner and scored on Connor Heady’s line single over 2B. Pompey doubled to LCF, advancing Heady to third. Reks singled to LF to score Heady and Pompey. UK 4, Miss. State 1.

Bottom 3rd – Rooker was hit by a pitch and scored on Brown’s double to RCF. UK 4, Miss. State 2.

Bottom 4th – Elijah MacNamee doubled off the LCF wall and moved to third on Tanner Poole’s SAC bunt. Hunter Stovall singled MacNamee home. Jake Mangum singled to LF. Stovall scored from first when Mangum’s single got past Reks in LF, with Mangum advancing to third. UK 4, Miss. State 4.

Bottom 6th – MacNamee singled to LF. Stovall was hit by a pitch that was originally ruled a foul ball and changed. Mangum tripled into the LF corner, scoring MacNamee and Stovall. Mangum scored when throw to third got away. Miss. State 7, UK 4.

Bottom 7th – MacNamee singled to third base. Stovall singled to CF with two outs. Pinch hitter Harrison Bragg hit his first home run of the season, a three-run shot to LF that scored MacNamee and Stovall. Miss. State 10, UK 4.

Top 8th – Riley Mahan singled to RF. Luke Becker hit a pinch hit, two-run home run to LF. Miss. State 10, UK 6.

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