STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – Luke Alexander’s two-run home run lifted No. 21 Mississippi State to a 4-2 victory over Utah Valley, Friday night at Dudy Noble Field.
The Bulldogs (9-6) and Wolverines (5-8) split a doubleheader. Utah Valley scored in the ninth inning and 11th inning to take a 2-1 victory in the opener.
“I’m really proud of the way we hung there and won the second game after losing the first one,” MSU head coach Gary Henderson said. “It was good to battle back and get a win. In the first game, Konnor was really good. He was in complete control of the game. He was getting his changeup and breaking ball both over. We had a lot of hard-hit balls with guys on base and didn’t have anything to show for it.
“We pressed a little bit in the second game because we were frustrated. Then we settled down and did what we needed to do.”
Game 1: Utah Valley 2, Mississippi State 1, 11 innings
Konnor Pilkington was brilliant but a late rally snapped the Bulldog win streak at five games.
Pilkington allowed three hits and no runs, with 12 strikeouts and no walks in seven innings of work. He faced two batters past the minimum.
However, the Bulldogs could not generate enough offense to get Pilkington into the win column.
MSU scored its lone run in the fourth inning when Josh Hatcher singled, Dustin Skelton doubled and Hatcher scored on a Rowdey Jordan sacrifice fly.
The Bulldogs finished with 10 hits but stranded 12 base runners.
Hatcher had his first four-hit day with the Bulldogs. No other MSU player had multiple hits.
From there, Utah Valley starter Jake Mayer also pitched well. Mayer allowed seven hits and one run (earned), with four strikeouts and two walks in eight innings of work. Fabian Palacios (1-0) got the win, while Drew Hill had his third save.
Cole Gordon (1-1) pitched the final 2.2 innings and took the loss for the Bulldogs.
The Wolverines scored the game-winner on a pair of walks, sacrifice and ground ball out.
Game 2: Mississippi State 4, Utah Valley 2
The Bulldogs scored three times in the eighth inning to salvage the second game.
In the eighth inning, Hunter Stovall started things with a one-out walk. Stovall stole second and scored on a Tanner Allen double. Alexander followed with his first home run of the year down the left field line.
MSU grabbed a 1-0 lead on an Allen RBI-double in the first inning. Utah Valley rallied with single scores in the third and sixth innings.
Ethan Small drew the start and worked six innings, allowing three hits and two runs (earned), with 10 strikeouts and a walk. Keegan James (1-1) threw the seventh and eighth innings, while Blake Smith got his second save by throwing the ninth inning.
The two relievers allowed three hits with three strikeouts and no walks over the final three innings. A double play ball sealed the victory.
The Diamond Dawgs and Wolverines will conclude their weekend series on Sunday with a 1 p.m. CT first pitch at Dudy Noble.