STARKVILLE, Miss. — Eight runs in the fifth and sixth innings proved to be enough for Mississippi State, as the Bulldogs erased a 3-1 deficit and went on to beat WKU, 9-3, Wednesday afternoon in Starkville, Miss. A day after beating Tennessee in 10 innings, the Hilltoppers could not complete a midweek sweep of Southeastern Conference opponents at the start of a stretch of nine games out of the next 10 on the road. The Hilltoppers fall to 9-4 with the loss, and Mississippi State wins its fifth in a row to move to 9-3 on the year.
Kes Carter and Matt Rice each had two hits for WKU, and Matt Payton was 1-for-3 with two RBI to extend his career-long hitting streak to 11 games. Connor Powers was 3-for-5 with three RBI to lead Mississippi State. Craig Stem took the loss for WKU after facing two batters and allowing two hits and two runs. C.C. Watson picked up the win for the Bulldogs, working one-and-two-thirds scoreless innings. The two teams combined to use 13 pitchers in the contest, which was the first meeting between the schools since 2004.
Mississippi State got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second, using a leadoff double and a pair of sacrifices to plate the game's first run. But WKU answered back in the top of the fourth, scoring two to take a 2-1 lead. Jake Wells singled with one out, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Matt Borgschulte and scored when Payton singled to right field. Jared Andreoli, who reached on a hit-by-pitch, also scored on the play.
WKU starter Brian Edelen cruised through the bottom of the fourth, his final inning of work, after allowing runners on second and third with one out. Mississippi State's Wes Thigpen flew out to Payton at second base, who then fired a strike to home plate to throw out Trey Johnson, who was trying to tag up and score from third base. Edelen was impressive in his second start of the season, working four innings and giving up just one run on four hits. He also struck out four batters.
The Hilltoppers added another run in the top of the fifth to extend their lead to 3-1 after four-and-a-half. Rice singled to right-center to lead things off and worked around the basepaths to score on a double play groundout.
But the wheels fell off the WKU bullpen in the bottom of the fifth, as Mississippi State was able to score six runs, taking advantage of eight straight hitters reaching base, to jump on top, 7-3. The Hilltoppers used four pitchers in the inning. Mississippi State added two more in the bottom of the sixth, bringing the game to its eventual final score of 9-3.
Shane Cameron, making a relief appearance between starts, struck out the side in his lone inning of work in the seventh.
The Hilltoppers left 13 men on base for the second straight game, and WKU hitters struck out 12 times against Bulldog pitching.
Up Next: The Hilltoppers head to New Orleans to open Sun Belt Conference play against the Privateers. First pitch on Friday night is scheduled for 6:30, Saturday's game starts at 4:00 PM and Sunday's series finale begins at 1:00 PM.