Sunday's second game between Georgia and Mississippi State began much as the first one did, as Jeffrey Rea led off the top of the first inning with a base hit. Subsequent singles followed from Joseph McCaskill and Edward Easley to give the visitors a 1-0 advantage.
Mitch Moreland sacrificed the baserunners over, enabling a base hit by Brian LaNinfa to score another run. Although Connor Powers grounded into the double play that ended M.S.U.'s time at the plate, Georgia starter Trevor Holder already had been roughed up to the tune of four hits and two earned runs.
The Red and Black were sat down in sequence in the bottom of the inaugural inning, but even that brief respite was enough to allow Holder time to find his form, as he retired the side on a groundout, a flyout, and a strikeout in the top of the second stanza.
This set the stage for the Classic City Canines to begin asserting themselves in the home half of the frame, which Rich Poythress led off with a home run to center field. The next two Georgia batters registered outs, but, after Travis Parrott was plunked, Luke Stewart drew a base on balls. This put the tying run in scoring position for Mike Freeman, who flied out to end the inning with the Red and Black trailing 2-1.
The top of the M.S.U. order came back up to the plate in the visitors' half of the third canto and Rea got the proceedings underway with a base hit. This was negated when McCaskill grounded into a double play, but the Starkville Bulldogs produced two new baserunners when Easley singled to center field and Moreland walked. The Mississippi State catcher was picked off to end the threat, however.
After Ryan Peisel popped up to start the bottom of the inning, Jonathan Wyatt put one out to right field to tie the game. Although the next two Diamond Dogs each grounded out, the home team had tied the game at two runs per side in spite of the visitors' 6-2 advantage in hits.
Despite LaNinfa's leadoff single in the top of the fourth frame, Holder held the line, striking out Powers and Andy Rice before Jet Butler's double to right field moved the M.S.U. designated hitter over to third. There LaNinfa remained when Mark Goforth looked at strike three.
Matt Olson led off the home half of the inning by knocking a base hit into right field and stealing second. Although Joey Lewis popped up to record the first out of the frame, Parrott's subsequent single to center field scored the Georgia right fielder. The Diamond Dog left fielder then swiped second base, as well, but, after Stewart walked, a Mississippi State pitching change caused Freeman to hit into the double play that stranded Parrott in scoring position. Nevertheless, the Classic City Canines now held a 3-2 lead.
As had become customary for the odd-numbered innings, Rea led off the top of the fifth frame with a base hit. The M.S.U. second baseman moved into scoring position on a McCaskill groundout and advanced to third on a wild pitch. From there, Easley easily brought him home on a game-tying groundout. Moreland thereafter popped up to conclude the batting for the visitors.
The Red and Black answered in the bottom of the canto. Peisel's leadoff flyout was followed by a Wyatt base hit. The Georgia center fielder stole second base and, after Gordon Beckham walked, a Poythress flyout moved Wyatt to third. Olson's ensuing double to left field brought home the go-ahead run. After a pitching change and an intentional walk, Parrott hit into the fielder's choice that closed out the inning that gave the home team a 4-3 lead.
No, seriously; this isn't one of those heartbreaking tales with a late-inning collapse. We're looking at a genuinely favorable outcome here.
At the start of the sixth stanza, Adam McDaniel took the mound in relief of Holder, who had permitted nine hits and a walk to the 22 batters he had faced but had limited the opposition to a trio of earned runs. Even though an error enabled LaNinfa to reach base, McDaniel retired the next three batters on a flyout, a popup, and a groundout to preserve the home team's lead.
Stewart started the bottom of the inning with a base hit. After the Georgia designated hitter was replaced on the basepaths by Blake Cannady, a Freeman sacrifice and a Peisel single moved the Diamond Dog pinch runner over to third. Wyatt's sacrifice fly to left field plated an insurance run and the Red and Black nearly extended their advantage again when Peisel stole second and took third on an error. Unfortunately, Beckham popped up to keep the score 5-3.
For the second time on Sunday, Joshua Fields was sent out in the top of the seventh canto charged with the duty of earning a save to preserve the win. Initially, he gave up a base hit to Goforth to bring the tying run to the plate, but Fields buckled down and got a popup from Rea, a flyout from McCaskill, and a strikeout from Easley to retire the top of the order and clinch both the victory and the series.
This was a solid outing for the Diamond Dogs. Despite being outhit by a 10-8 margin, the Red and Black generated runs with power and finesse, overcoming a 2-0 deficit with home runs and situational hitting. Matt Olson (2 for 3, 1 run, 1 R.B.I.) and Jonathan Wyatt (2 for 3, 2 runs, 2 R.B.I.) paced the Classic City Canines' offensive effort as the Red and Black tacked on one run in each of the last five innings.
Although Trevor Holder got knocked around a little bit, the defense recorded outs when they mattered and held Mississippi State scoreless in five of the last six stanzas. The Starkville Bulldogs produced baserunners in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh innings, only one of whom made it home.
By sweeping the doubleheader, the Diamond Dogs won an S.E.C. series for the first time since March 18 and clinched a three-game set on Sunday for the first time this season.