Late-Inning Rally Lifts State To 5-4 Win Over UConn

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Trey Porter's two-run homer in the eighth was a key part of State's comeback win.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State was able to beat the rain and Connecticut Friday afternoon.

The Bulldogs battled back from down four runs by scoring twice in the home half of the ninth inning on a throwing error to defeat the Huskies 5-4 in a college baseball game played at rain-soaked Dudy Noble Field. UConn made back-to-back errors in the ninth inning to allow the Maroon and White to escape with victory.

MSU won in walk-off fashion for the second time this season, while posting its fourth come-from-behind victory. The Bulldogs have won three times by scoring runs in their final at-bat.

"It was the little things that added up to a win," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "People will talk about the errors, but we made some good swings to be in that position there at the end. Sometimes when guys are over-motivated, you try too hard. I think we were trying to hard early in the game."

The Huskies built the 4-0 lead, thanks in part to a three-run home run from Tom Verdi in the fourth inning. UConn stretched the lead with a single score in the fifth inning. From there, MSU reliever Chris Stratton found a groove and dominated.

Stratton (3-0) worked the final six innings, allowing seven hits and four runs (all earned), with a season-best nine strikeouts. Ben Bracewell started but was lifted in part due to soreness after throwing 42 pitches over three scoreless innings.

"I got a couple of pitches up there and you can't do that against a team that likes to swing the sticks," Stratton said. "They are aggressive and I made a couple of mistakes. After that, I tried to throw strikes and like my defense make plays. I was real happy we were able to find a way to get some runs and get the win."

The Bulldogs began their rally in the seventh inning when C.T. Bradford drew a leadoff walk and scored on a groundout by Demarcus Henderson.

While MSU only managed one run in that-bat, it did manage to force UConn starter Brian Ward from the game. In six-plus innings, Ward allowed three hits and one run (earned), with four strikeouts.

In the eighth inning, Husky reliever David Fischer (0-2) was touched for a two-run home run by Trey Porter. The first of UConn's three errors preceded Porter's third round-tripper of the year.

"I didn't think it was out," Porter said. "I tried to get good barrel on it. We are struggling to score runs right now, but our pitching has been dominating. We will get some things together and once we start scoring some runs, we can be a pretty good team."

Matthew Britton led off the MSU ninth inning with a base hit. After a sacrifice bunt by Henderson, an overthrow by the UConn second baseman placed runners on the corners. Adam Frazier, who reached on that error, then stole second base. On a chopper to the UConn third baseman hit by Mitch Slauter, the throw home was wide, allowing Britton and Frazier to score ending the contest.

"Give credit to Chris (Stratton) for settling down and giving us a chance," Cohen said. "A year or two ago, he might have struggled and not found a way to bounce back. Now, he finds a way to keep battling. He shuts them out the final four innings and that gives us a chance."

The Bulldogs finished with seven hits. Daryl Norris and Hunter Renfroe each had multiple hits.

The Huskies finished with eight hits. Billy Ferriter had multiple hits.

MSU will host Lipscomb at 11 a.m. today and Connecticut at 2:30 p.m. today. In Friday's opener, UConn beat Lipscomb, 4-2.



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