For the second consecutive game, the University of Kentucky baseball team failed to protect a three-run lead and lost to Mississippi State.
This time, a three-run second inning gave the Cats a 4-1 lead, but Mississippi State racked up 14 hits and went on to win 10-6 on Sunday in the series finale in Starkville, Miss.
Kentucky lost a Southeastern Conference series for the first time this season but remained in first place in the SEC East.
Kentucky right fielder Tristan Pompey capped a fantastic series by going 4-for-5 with two doubles. He went 8-for-11 (.727) with five runs and four RBI in three games.
UK’s Zach Reks went 2-for-5 on Sunday. His two-run single put the Cats (22-11, 8-4) in front 4-1 early.
Mississippi State (22-12, 8-4) tied it in the fourth against UK starter Justin Lewis, then took the lead with a three-run sixth. Jake Mangum hit an opposite-field triple down the left-field line off UK reliever Zach Pop to drive in two runs, and he came all the way around to score on shortstop Connor Heady’s errant relay throw to third, making it 7-4.
In the seventh, Harrison Bragg batted for Mangum and blasted a three-run homer to left field — the first of his career — off Brad Schaenzer to stretch the Bulldogs’ lead to 10-4.
Kentucky did not go quietly. Luke Becker answered with a pinch-hit home run of his own, a two-run shot off Mississippi State reliever Trysten Barlow to trim the deficit to 10-6.
The Cats threatened to score more runs in the inning, but Spencer Price — the fourth Mississippi State pitcher used in the inning — came on to strike out Evan White with two runners on.
Pompey reached base for the Cats in the ninth, but Price slammed the door by whiffing Kole Cottam and Riley Mahan to end the game.
Mississippi State star Brent Rooker, who hit three home runs in Saturday night’s 10-6 victory, went 1-for-2 with a double and walked twice.
The Bulldogs erased a three-run deficit on Sunday just as they did in Game 2, when Kentucky led 3-0 after one half-inning.