TUCSON, Ariz. ?- Mississippi State scored 10 runs in the second inning to jump out to a 12-2 lead and fended off numerous Arizona rallies throughout the rest of the game to hang on for a 13-12 win over the ninth-ranked Wildcats at Kindall Field on Sunday.
The loss prevented Arizona from sweeping its third series of the year and dropped the Wildcats to 14-6 overall. Mississippi State salvaged its 1,500-mile road trip to Tucson with the victory and improved to 9-2 on the year.
MSU, which had struck out 31 times in the first two games of the series, jumped on Arizona’s Sean Rierson right from the start. The Bulldogs plated a pair of runs in the top of the first for a 2-0 lead before scoring 10 times on nine hits off of two different Wildcat pitchers in the second for a 10-run advantage.
MSU chased Rierson (2-2) with no outs in the second and a 5-2 lead after opening the frame with three straight singles, an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt, and three more base knocks. The senior right-hander was charged with the loss after giving up eight runs on seven hits in just one inning of work.
Replacing Rierson with the bases loaded, reliever David Coulon got the first out on a sacrifice fly, but quickly gave up two more run-scoring singles to push the MSU advantage to 8-2 before third baseman Ed Easley capped off the inning with a grand slam homer over the left field wall.
After MSU scored in the top of the sixth for a 13-5 lead, Arizona’s offense plated two runs in the bottom of the sixth, one in the seventh and had a chance to tie the game after Jeff Van Houten hit a three-run homer to cut the lead to one as part of a four-run eighth, but pinch hitter Bill Rhinehart grounded out on the first pitch of his bases-loaded at bat to end the inning with the tying run 90 feet away at third.
MSU’s John Crosby (2-0) picked up the victory on the mound after spelling starter Josh Johnson in the second inning. The Bulldog right-hander limited the Wildcats to two runs on three hits over 4 1/3 innings for his second win of the year. Closer Saunders Ramsey worked out of the Wildcat scoring threat in the eighth and tossed a perfect ninth for his second save of the year.
Offensively, MSU posted 16 hits in the game, 11 of which came in the first two innings alone. Led by a 4 for 5-afternoon by Joseph Hunter, six different MSU hitters finished with two or more hits on the day. Jeff Butts (2 for 5, 2 R) and Brad Jones (2 for 4) each had three RBI for the Bulldogs in the game.
The loss wasted Trevor Crowe’s 4 for 6 day at the plate and Van Houten’s five-RBI game. UA’s Jason Donald finished the game 3 for 4 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored after going a combined 0 for 6 in the previous two days.
Arizona will take Monday off before returning to action on Tuesday and Wednesday for a pair non-conference games against UNLV at Kindall Field. Freshman Eric Berger will take the mound on Tuesday.
The 13 runs and 16 hits in Sunday’s loss were the most surrendered by the Arizona pitching staff this season ... After striking out 31 hitters in the first two games against MSU, the Wildcat hurlers struck out just one in Sunday’s loss ... Senior Jeff Van Houten extended his hitting streak to 26 straight games with a second inning single. His home run in the eighth was his third of the year and the 24th of his career.