It may have taken 11 innings, but Mississippi State earned its sixth straight series victory over Ole Miss with a 7-6 win in Game 3 on Saturday afternoon.
Brad Cumbest hit the game-winning home run and hit 2-for-5 at the plate with a run and an RBI. RJ Yeager added two runs and two RBIs with a 2-for-5 home run. Hunter Hines had 3 RBIs on a three-run home run. KC Hunt took the win on the mound after recording two strikeouts and allowing no runs or hits in the final 2.2 innings of action. Starting pitcher Cade Smith allowed four runs on four hits with four batters and six strikeouts.
For the third day in a row, Ole Miss started the game with a solo home run late in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead.
Mississippi State scored its first runs of the game in the top of the third inning. Yeager started the inning with a single and was then led by Logan Tanner to tie the score at one run apiece. The Diamond Dawgs were able to load the bases with no outs, but two misses prevented more runs from reaching the home.
In the fifth inning, the Bulldogs earned their first lead of the game. Luke Hancock singled and Tanner doubled to base, then Hines brought both teammates home on a three-run homer. With a 4-1 lead, the visiting team rolled offensively and blew through the Ole Miss bullpen. The Rebels had a comeback on a solo shot from Hayden Leatherwood late in the inning.
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Lane Forsythe singled down the middle to start the sixth inning and was driven home on Yeager’s two-run homer, giving the Diamond Dawgs a 6-2 lead. Smith encountered his first major struggle on the mound late in the set and couldn’t pull it off. He charged on two walks and a single before being called out of the game. Relief pitcher Cam Tullar walked slugger TJ McCants with the bases loaded to drive home a run and was quickly replaced by Jackson Fristoe. Fristoe gave up a sacrificial fly to the outfield but managed to keep the score at 6-4.
The game remained calm but tense until the bottom of the ninth inning. Pitcher Pico Kohn forced the first out before giving up a single to leadoff hitter Justin Bench. Shortstop Ole Miss Jacob Gonzalez made Kohn pay for a fastball down the middle — he sent his second homer of the game into right field, tying the game at 6-6. Hunt entered the game and escaped the frame, giving fans a chance to watch some free baseball.
Both defenses went 1-2-3 frames in the 10th inning, but that didn’t mean the game would last much longer. Some of the Bulldogs’ hardest hitters came to the plate in the top of the 11th inning, and one of them was ready to put the game away…the Mule. When Combest stepped in, he sent a no-doubt into left field that nearly went out of the park and gave the Diamond Dawgs a 7-6 lead.
Hunt only had to go one more set to earn a crucial win for his team, and that’s exactly what he did. He forced three straight flyouts to lock in the series victory and move MSU up the SEC West standings.
Mississippi State will face Ole Miss once again Tuesday night in the Governor’s Cup. The game will take place at Pearl and will not be counted as an SEC game but may still affect the Bulldogs’ RPI. The first pitch is set for 6:00 p.m. CT.