STARKVILLE, Miss. - The timely hit eluded the Mississippi State baseball team as the Bulldogs fell to Southeastern Louisiana 6-5 in the final of a three-game weekend series played Sunday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.
A week removed from opening the season with a series sweep of Rhode Island, the Bulldogs fell to the other side of the spectrum, losing all three games they played against the Southland Conference-based Lions.
The Lions pounded out 15 hits and grabbed the lead for good by scoring twice in the eighth inning. The Bulldogs stranded nine base runners and failed to score in the final five at-bats in the contest. MSU also had runners at second and third with one out in the ninth inning but failed to score the game-tying run.
"We are better than we were this weekend and we will continue to get better," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "Since this had to happen, I liked the way that it happened. It stings and I want our guys to fill that sting. Not everything will always go our way.
"We know how it feels when we don't do our job."
For the first time in the series, the Bulldogs struck first on Sunday afternoon. MSU plated two runs in the first inning when Russ Sneed hit his first home run of the year, a massive shot to left center field.
The Lions (7-0) battled back with one run in the second inning and two more scores in the third inning. The Bulldogs (4-3) then retook the lead on a two-run home run by Connor Powers in the home half of the third inning. For Powers, it was a team-best fourth home run of the season.
MSU extended that lead with an RBI-single by Jonathan Ogden in the fourth inning. However, after that score, the hosts would not lead again.
SLU took over things with a single score in the sixth inning and two more scores in the eighth inning. An RBI-single by Jeff Harkensee tied the contest 5-5. Trey Martin followed that score with a steal of home, plating the go-ahead run.
In the MSU ninth inning, Ogden began the inning with a leadoff single. After a sacrifice bunt attempt by Luke Adkins, Sneed reached when the SLU second baseman lost a popup in the sun for an infield single, moving Ogden to third base. A passed ball moved pinch-runner Jaron Shepherd to second base.
A Powers strikeout and Ryan Duffy groundout snuffed that final threat.
"We had two seniors in a row there at the end," Cohen said. "Those at-bats are four years in the making. It's what you dream of. I feel horrible for the two of them."
The Bulldogs finished with 11 hits. Ogden, Sneed and Powers all had multiple hits.
Phillip Freeman and Chad Gough-Fortenberry each had three hits for SLU. Justin Boudreaux, Harkensee and Cody Gougler each had multiple hits.
Ben Brace well (0-1) - the third of four pitchers used by the Bulldogs - took the loss. Bracewell allowed three hits and a pair of runs in two innings of work. Corey Collins started and was chased during the SLU two-run third inning. Kendall Graveman preceded Bracewell, while Devin Jones followed and worked the ninth inning.
Josh Janway (2-0) threw 4.2 innings of scoreless relief to garner the win. Ryan Boudreaux started and was chased in the fourth inning. Chris Franklin worked SLU out of the tight spot in the ninth inning for his second save.
The Bulldogs host South Alabama at 4 p.m. Tuesday.