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March 15, 2009

Box Score

Starkville, Miss. – Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Justin Dalles each tallied RBI base hits in the top of the sixth inning to spark 17th ranked South Carolina to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over Mississippi State in the final game of a three-game SEC baseball series at Dudy Noble Field. The win in the seven-inning affair improves Carolina to 11-4 and 1-2 in the SEC while the loss drops Mississippi State to 12-5 and 2-1 in conference play. South Carolina returns to action at home on Tuesday night hosting Davidson with first pitch at Carolina Stadium scheduled for 7 p.m.

A see-saw affair saw Mississippi State enter the top of the sixth inning with a 4-3 lead. Carolina, as it had in the fourth and fifth innings, mounted a rally with Bobby Haney drawing a leadoff walk and advancing to second base on Whit Merrifield’s sacrifice bunt. With a 1-2 count, Bradley, Jr. tied the game for the Gamecocks as he drilled a single up the middle to score Haney. Nick Ebert followed with his own base hit and DeAngelo Mack walked to load the bases. Enter Dalles, who substituted into the game as a pinch hitter. On an 0-1 pitch, Dalles knocked a single to center field scoring Bradley, Jr. with the go-ahead run.

South Carolina held a 5-4 lead but the game did not end without its tense moments as Mississippi State loaded the bases in the sixth inning on a single and a pair of walks. With two outs, Gamecock left-hander Alex Farotto got out of the jam as he coaxed Scott DeLoach into a fly out to center field preserving the one-run advantage. MSU continued to battle and put the potential tying run on third base in the seventh inning. Brent Brownlee drew a one-out walk and Grant Hogue singled giving the Bulldogs a pair of runners with one outs. Carolina head coach Ray Tanner went to the pen again with Curtis Johnson and the Gamecock senior right-hander recorded the second out as Cody Freeman flew out to deep right field. With two outs, Tanner made one more move as he brought in junior left-hander Grimes Medlin to face MSU pinch hitter Luke Adkins. The count went full and Adkins fouled off several pitches until he flied out to Whit Merrifield in deep left center for the final out of the game preserving a Carolina victory.

Farotto picked up the win after hurling 3.1 innings of relief. He is now 2-0 on the season. Farotto allowed just one run on three hits with six strikeouts and four walks. Medlin’s final out of the game earned him his first save of his collegiate career. Mississippi State reliever Justin Bussey took the loss and is 1-2 for the season. He allowed two runs on two hits in one inning with three walks and a strikeout.

South Carolina held a 14-5 advantage in hits. Nick Ebert had a 4-for-5 day at the plate with a run scored. He is the first Gamecock player this season to record four hits in game. Kyle Enders was 2-for-3 with a homer and two RBI with Bobby Haney also going 2-for-3 at the plate. Mississippi State had five different players record hits though they walked 11 times in the contest.

Carolina took its first lead of the series with a solo home run off the bat of Kyle Enders in the top of the second inning. Enders grooved a 2-0 pitch from MSU starter Devin Jones for his first homer of the year, just clearing the wall in left field. Enders’ previous home run came last season in a win vs. Western Carolina on April 8, 2008.

Mississippi State fought back and went ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the third inning. The Bulldogs were the beneficiary of four walks issued by Gamecock starter Adam Westmoreland as well as one infield single. With two outs and the bases loaded, MSU scored its first run as a short chopper in between first and the pitcher’s mound by Scott DeLoach was enough for the MSU catcher to beat out a throw scoring the first run of the inning for the Bulldogs. Ryan Powers would then draw a walk on four pitches to score Connor Powers and giving the Bulldogs a one-run edge.

South Carolina would knot the game at two apiece in the top of the fourth inning. Andrew Crisp singled and Enders doubled to put two runners on base with no outs. Crisp would then score on a RBI sacrifice fly off the bat of Casey Rihn. Carolina looked to have some momentum and loaded the bases with one out. MSU would get out of the jam though as left-handed reliever Jared Wesson entered and induced Jackie Bradley, Jr. into a 4-3 double play ending the inning and preserving a tie.

As the pendulum shifted, Mississippi State regained its lead with a run in the bottom half of the fourth. Grant Hogue was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on pinch hitter Cody Freeman’s RBI base hit to left field.

The tide turned in the Gamecocks favor in the top of the fifth though as a single run for Carolina made it 3-3. Nick Ebert led off with a single, Parker Bangs added a pinch-hit one-out single and Andrew Crisp walked to load the bases. With one out, Kyle Enders drove a deep sacrifice fly ball to left center scoring Ebert and tying the game. Enders just missed a homer as the left fielder Brent Brownlee made the catch on the warning track. MSU scored a single run in the bottom of the fifth as Brownlee came through with a two-out RBI base hit.

Sunday’s series finale was seven innings due to Saturday’s halted game having to be finished on Sunday afternoon before the finale. South Carolina’s next week includes the home mid-week game vs. Davidson, a Wednesday night contest vs. Furman at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C. and a weekend SEC series vs. nationally-ranked LSU.