HOOVER, Ala. – Two days ago, the SEC named Mississippi State first baseman Brent Rooker the SEC player of the year. In his first game since receiving the honor, Rooker wasted no time reminding fans what he can do.
On his second swing of the game, Rooker blasted a 2-run home run in the first inning. The sweet swing set the tone, as 5-seed Mississippi State advanced to the double-elimination round of the SEC Tournament with a dominant 3-0 win over 12-seed Georgia on Wednesday morning.
The game was pushed back from a Tuesday night to Wednesday morning game thanks to weather delays, but Mississippi State (35-22) came out fully awake in a battle of the Bulldogs. MSU posted 11 hits against Georgia (25-32), which likely saw its season end.
Rooker went 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs in a strong start to the tourney. Shortstop Ryan Gridley added two hits and a run. After giving up a pair of early hits, Mississippi State starter Konnor Pilkinton gave up only 5 hits in 8 innings with 6 strikeouts.
Georgia pitchers struggled with control all morning long. Starter Chase Adkins hit Gridley in the first inning, who then came home on Rooker’s bomb. UGA pulled Adkins after just 3 2-3 innings after surrendering seven hits and three runs. It was a disappointing performance for Georgia’s top pitcher.
It almost got even worse in the fifth inning. Georgia pitcher Drew Moody hit Hunter Vansau and Elijah MacNamee consecutively to load the bases. Luckily for him, Josh Lovelady grounded out to strand all three runners.
Regardless of the pitcher, Mississippi State kept having success. The Bulldogs used four different pitchers. Only one didn’t give up multiple hits – reliever Zac Kristofak only faced one batter.
Ranked anywhere between 18 and 21 in the national polls, the Bulldogs were clearly a cut above Georgia in the first round. Advancing to the double-elimination portion of the SEC tournament keeps their hopes of a national seed alive.
What’s next for Georgia?
UGA narrowly made the SEC baseball tournament field as the lowest seed in the tourney. With the loss today. The Bulldogs’ season is now almost certainly over.
What’s next for Mississippi State?
The Bulldogs move on to the second round of games against 4-seed Arkansas. With the scheduling changes, the game will now take place at 9:30 a.m. CT. Starting now, the SEC baseball tournament becomes double-elimination, so MSU is guaranteed at least two more games.