Mississippi State's Season Ends With 3-2 NCAA Setback To Samford
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Mississippi State saw its first 40-win baseball season since 2005 come to a close Sunday afternoon as the 14th-ranked Baseball Bulldogs dropped a 3-2 decision to Samford in an elimination game of the Tallahassee Regional played at Florida State's Dick Howser Stadium.
The Bulldogs could not duplicate the magic of last week's remarkable run to a Southeastern Conference tournament championship. Instead, MSU wraps up the campaign with a 1-2 record in its second straight regional tournament appearance under fourth-year head coach John Cohen.
"I am really proud of our kids," Cohen said. "I thought our kids competed well. I think we have the basis for a really good future in our program, even though that doesn't help us right now. I think the way our kids competed down the stretch for this season, I am really proud."
For MSU, it is their 18th 40-win season in program history. Meanwhile, Samford (41-22) will now need to beat top-seed Florida State (45-15) twice to secure the regional tournament title.
In a contrast to Friday's 5-0 opening-round defeat to Samford, MSU actually built an early 2-0 lead Sunday with single scores in the first and fourth innings. However, some miscues in the bunting game and the running game prevented the Maroon and White from enjoying a larger margin.
In the first inning, Adam Frazier opened the contest with a leadoff single. Frazier stole second base, prior to Demarcus Henderson drawing a walk. A sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. However, the Bulldogs got only Frazier home on a groundball out.
An inning later, Wes Rea started things with a leadoff double. Matthew Britton followed with a single, placing runners at first and third bases. A failed bunt attempt saw Rea taken down the plate. A strikeout and groundout ended that threat.
The lead pushed to 2-0 in the fourth inning. This time, Luis Pollorena had a leadoff single. Rea and Britton followed with back-to-back hits, as Britton's single brought home Pollorena. This time the offense stalled there with another failed bunt attempt, a flyout and a groundout.
MSU stranded five base runners the rest of the way as the Southern Conference champions posted their second victory in a first-ever regional tournament competition.
Samford pulled within a run in the fourth inning. Brandon Miller and C.K. Irby started things with back-to-back hits. A popped-up bunt attempt and groundout followed. Tommy Corbin followed with a run-scoring single. However, MSU outfielder Hunter Renfroe posted his 10th outfield assist of the season to nab Irby at the plate to end the inning.
Samford grabbed the lead for good in the seventh inning. After a pair of outs to start the inning, the Bulldogs turned to Jonathan Holder. A true freshman from Gulfport, Holder had not allowed a run in a school-record 27.1 innings of work.
On this day however, Holder was touched for a single by Phillip Ervin and a bad-hop RBI-double by Miller. A throwing error followed allowing Samford to plate an unearned run to grab the lead for good.
In the MSU ninth inning, A one-out walk to Sam Frost opened the door. Frazier followed with a double down the left field line. A strikeout of Henderson and fly to right field by Brent Brownlee ended this final threat for the Maroon and White.
In one inning of work, Holder (2-1) took the loss. In his second start, Jacob Lindgren worked four-plus innings, allowing eight hits and one run, with three strikeouts and a walk. Ross Mitchell, Ben Bracewell and Chad Girodo followed Holder to the mound, while Nick Routt finished the eighth inning.
Samford reliever Joseph Burns (4-1) worked 1.2 innings to earn the win. Burns allowed no hits and struck out a pair. Starter Kyle Putkonen worked 6.1 innings, allowing eight hits and two runs (both earned), with five strikeouts and a walk. C.K. Irby worked around the danger in the ninth inning for his 10th save.
MSU finished with nine hits. Frazier, Rea and Britton each had multiple hits. For the season, Frazier hit safely in 53 of 64 games, including 14 of the final 15, while posting a team-best .371 average.
Samford finished with 12 hits. Zeth Stone, Brad Moss, Miller and Irby each had multiple hits for these Bulldogs.
Losing only seniors Caleb Reed and Brownlee, as well as the possibility of some draft-eligible players, MSU does conclude the season with its best conference win total since 2003, its best overall win total since 2005, its seventh-ever conference tournament championship and its 32nd-ever regional tournament appearance.