South Alabama beats Mississippi State in regional opener

Courtesy: Mississippi State Athletics

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – The Mississippi State baseball team fell behind early and could not rally, falling 6-3 to South Alabama in the final game of the first day of the Hattiesburg Regional Friday night at Pete Taylor Park.

No. 2 seed MSU (36-25) will now face No. 4 seed Illinois-Chicago (39-16) in an elimination game at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Bulldogs will now have to battle back through the losers’ bracket to play in a super regional for a second straight season.

Randy Bell (7-3) was the story of the game for the Jaguars. The senior right-hander threw his second complete game of the season with a 132-pitch six-hitter. Bell allowed three earned runs, with three strikeouts and two walks.

“When you don’t throw the ball over the plate, it’s a challenge,” assistant coach Mike Brown said. “It’s an uphill battle when you can’t throw strikes consistently. We had some chances but we didn’t get the big hit. When you have runners at second and third, you got to find a way to drive them in.”

South Alabama (40-19) built the early lead with three runs in the top of the first inning.

Dylan Hardy hit the first pitch of the game from Cole Gordon for his fifth home run of the season and the Jaguars never trailed. Travis Swaggerty hit an RBI-double and a ground ball out scored the other run.

Ryan Gridley and Brent Rooker opened the MSU first inning with back-to-back hits. The run scored on a sacrifice fly by Hunter Stovall.

Swaggerty struck again with a three-run home run off Peyton Plumlee in the fifth inning.

In the MSU sixth inning, Stovall walked and Cody Brown followed with an RBI-triple. Hunter Vansau lined a sacrifice fly bringing home the Bulldogs’ last run.

MSU was held to one hit – a two-out single by Josh Lovelady – over the final three innings.

Gordon (2-3) worked two-plus innings, allowing three hits and three runs (all earned), with two strikeouts and five walks. Plumlee allowed five hits and three runs (all earned) in three innings of work. Trey Jolly, Spencer Price and Trysten Barlow also pitched.

Overall, the Bulldogs allowed nine hits and walked nine batters with eight strikeouts.

Brown finished with two of MSU’s six hits.

South Alabama got three hits from Swaggerty and Hardy.

State will return to Pete Taylor Park to face UIC in an elimination game on Saturday with first pitch set for 1 p.m. CT.

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