STARKVILLE, Miss. -- No. 16 Mississippi State struck with four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, including a two-out, bases-loaded walk to Brett Pirtle, as the Bulldogs defeated 12th-ranked South Carolina, 5-4, on Thursday night in the opener of a three-game SEC series.
The Gamecocks are now 38-15 overall and 16-11 in the SEC. Mississippi State is 39-15 overall and 15-13 in league play.
Despite a leadoff walk to Max Schrock in the top of the ninth inning, MSU closer Jonathan Holder retired the next three batters he faced for his 15th save of the season. MSU reliever Chad Girodo (6-1) earned the win, pitching one scoreless inning with two strikeouts and a walk.
Tyler Webb (2-2) suffered the loss, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks in his one inning. South Carolina starter Nolan Belcher worked 6 1-3 innings and allowed one run on nine hits, with four strikeouts and three walks.
Brison Celek led South Carolina at the plate with a 2-for-3 game. Joey Pankake drove in a pair of runs for the Gamecocks, who had seven hits.
C.T. Bradford, Demarcus Henderson and Nick Ammirati each had three hits for Mississippi State, which had 14 hits.
The series continues at 7:30 p.m. Friday.