Rea Homer Lifts State Past USA 2-0 In 12th Inning
Rea's home run, his third of the year, made a winner of freshman righty Trevor Fitts (3-0) and gave the Bulldogs their second consecutive walk-off win and third of the year. Tyler Huffer (0-1), the last of four South Alabama pitchers in the game, took the loss, allowing the game's two runs on the one big hit by Rea.
Pitching was the main event for most of the night, with MSU freshman Brandon Woodruff making the most of his first career pitching start. Woodruff faced one batter over the minimum, striking out eight and walking one in six innings of no-hit shutout mound work. MSU pitching finished with 16 strikeouts, second-most by the State staff this spring.
USA pitching was equally impressive. Jag starter Payton Gardner two-hit the Bulldogs and registered seven strikeouts during his 6.2-inning mound stint. Relief men Jarrett Bailey and Kyle Bartsch kept the shutout intact to send the game into extra innings.
Held hitless through eight frames, South Alabama got its first two hits of the game off MSU relief man Jonathan Holder in the ninth but failed to score after loading the bases. The third Bulldog double play of the night snuffed out another possible Jaguar rally in the 10th and Bulldog center fielder C.T. Bradford threw out Nolan Earley at the plate for the final out of the 11th inning.
State, 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position for the night, had scoring opportunities too. MSU left the bases loaded in the sixth, had a runner thrown out at the plate in the eighth, and left a runner stranded in scoring position in both the ninth and 10th innings. State nearly ended the game in the 11th when Mitch Slauter's drive to deep left field was reeled in at the fence on a leaping grab by Nick Zaharion.
Fitts, in his eighth relief appearance of the year, retired South Alabama in order in the 12th, setting the stage for Rea's late-game dramatics. Demarcus Henderson was struck by a pitch to open the inning, and two batters later Rea chased him home after delivering game-winning swat.
Rea had the game's only two-hit plate performance and with the two-run blast notched his seventh multi-hit, multi-RBI game.
Mississippi State resumes SEC competition on the road this weekend, taking on two-time defending NCAA champion South Carolina in a three-game set at Carolina Stadium. Friday's series-opener is set for a 6 p.m. (CDT) start.