LEXINGTON, Ky. (MSU Athletics/WTVA) - Mississippi State carried a 1-0 lead in the home half of the eighth inning after a brilliant start from Ethan Small, but couldn't close the door in a 4-1 loss to No. 17 Kentucky Saturday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky then erupted for four runs on four hits to clinch the Southeastern Conference weekend series.
In the ninth inning, MSU got a leadoff walk from Elijah MacNamee. Three straight outs, including a pair of warning track outs, snuffed the Bulldogs' last threat.
MSU fell to 27-24 overall and 11-15 in league play, while Kentucky improved to 33-17 and 13-13.
"Ethan Small was outstanding today," MSU head coach Gary Henderson said. "He had success by just doing the basics well. We hit several balls hard, but they were outs. We needed more guys on base. We pitched it well and defended it well other than the error in the eighth inning."
The Kentucky pitching trio of Zack Thompson, Mason Hazelwood and Jimmy Ramsey combined to hold MSU to three hits.
The Bulldogs scored in the first inning when Rowdey Jordan and Luke Alexander each walked, before Hunter Stovall hit an RBI-single. The Bulldogs stranded three of their nine runners there in the first inning.
After a leadoff walk in the second inning, the Wildcats retired the next 17 Bulldogs in a row.
Stovall, Justin Foscue and Jordan Westburg had the hits for the Bulldogs.
Small pitched six innings, allowing five hits and no runs, with five strikeouts and two walks. JP France pitched the final two innings, allowing four hits and four runs (two earned).
Tristan Pompey, Luke Heyer and Luke Becker each had two hits for Kentucky, which totaled nine hits.