After Mississippi State failed to cash in on game-ending opportunities in the ninth and tenth innings, it was the visiting Cougars coming through with the big hit. It was at the expense of Bulldog reliever Caleb Reed, who had entered back in the seventh inning to preserve a 4-4 tie. The senior All-American did that and more, retiring 18 of 20 Washington State batters with just a hit batsman and single against him.
But as the Bulldog offense failed to finish things off Reed’s stint just kept extending. The fatal 13th could have been worse, too, if not for a pair of sharp defensive stops by 2B Adam Frazier to begin that inning. A tiring Reed walked Derek Jones to crack the gate at last, followed by Jason Monda’s chink single falling behind third base. A walk of Collins Slaybaugh filled the bases, and on full-count—and Reed’s 95th pitch--Richards punched the two-run hit past third base.
Jonathan Holder got the last Cougar out but the damage was done. Mississippi State did keep it intense to the end. RF Brent Brownlee reached on an infield single and Frazier’s fly-ball to centerfield was misplayed into a double and tying Dogs in scoring positions to bring in Simon. 3B Daryl Norris plated one of them with a grounder, and OF Taylor Stark tried the same. Cougar third baseman Trace Tam Sing got down on the ball to both hold the tying runner on the bag and get an out, and Simon grounded out C Mitch Slauter to end it after 4:21.
State had two excellent chances to end it earlier. With the winning run on third base in the ninth inning Slauter’s grounder would have scored him, except it hopped right into the leg of other baserunner Norris for the automatic out. In the tenth the bases were loaded up with one out for Brownlee, who watched strike three before Frazier lined-out. For that matter in the eighth LF Hunter Renfroe had also taken a called strikeout with one down and runners at second and third base for a lead.
Nick LaRoy got the victory for WSU as he finished the Bulldog 12th with a strikeout and returned with a lead that nearly got away. Simon picked up the save. Reed took the loss despite 6.0 official innings, charged with the two runs on three hits with a career-best nine strikeouts and one walk.
Largely forgotten after all the extra innings were the three runs WSU tallied in the first two frames off State starter Nick Routt. He allowed consecutive hits to open each inning, with Monda notching the game’s opening RBI on a single scoring Nate Blackham. After a bunt advanced both second-inning runners Routt was hit for a RBI-single by Sing and run-scoring grounder off Blackham’s bat. He finished that inning but was replaced for the third by Evan Mitchell.
In a relief role Mitchell was able to get through four-plus innings with just a run against him. That was in the WSU fourth as Patrick Claussen doubled in Jones for a 4-1 lead. Mitchell would get an out into the seventh before a one-batter stint from Chad Girodo, which was Reed’s cue.
Transfer righthander Kyle Swannack had a solid debut as a Cougar starter, giving up two runs in 4.2 innings. Bulldog doubles in the second inning by DH Trey Porter and Renfroe got State on the scoreboard, then in the fifth leadoff hits by Renfroe and SS Matthew Britton began another threat. With both bunted over Porter scored on a Brownlee fly ball, before Cougar reliever Richie Ochoa coaxed a pop-out to keep the score 4-2.
But the soft-thrower’s first start came to a dramatic end in the sixth as Norris singled, and Porter line-shot a two-run homer over rightfield for the tied tally that Reed protected. And protected, and…He stranded a hit batsman in the eighth, and retired the side in the ninth with a pair of strikeouts in the tenth.
By contrast the Bulldogs left all sacks occupied by runners in their eighth. A Porter single, bunt, and chink-single by Rea had the corners filled, and with two outs reliever Spencer Jackson walked Britton. On full count Bradford hit it short of the rightfield track to strand everyone. Brownlee led off State’s ninth with the single and was successfully sacrificed over by Frazier. Washington State walked Norris both for the force as well as to have a shot at Sam Frost, but Taylor Stark got to swing instead and against new reliever Anthony Drobnick. It worked partly for each side as Stark grounded past the pitcher for an out but both lead runners advanced.
Slauter hit it right up the middle and the grounder might have gotten past the Cougar shortstop…but not past Norris as it bounced right into the runner’s leg for the official hit and inning-ending out. State was able to stuff the bases again in the 10th as Rea’s grounder ate up the third baseman and Renfroe walked. With both bunted over by Britton the Cougars walked Bradford.
This time it was Brownlee watching strike three for the second out, and Frazier lining the first pitch to right. And after a one-out walk of Renfroe in the 12th consecutive strikeouts stranded him.
State left 16 runners unscored compared to eight Cougars.
The second game began at 6:35 with a pair of righthanders throwing, Kendall Graveman for State and Tanner Chleborad for WSU. The teams were playing a twinbill after Saturday’s game was rained out.