LAFAYETTE — Mississippi State reliever Myles Gentry was handed the ball in the fifth inning Friday and then listened to message that followed.
“The coaches told me, ‘Don’t let anyone else pitch,’ ” Gentry said.
No need worrying about that.
Gentry not only finished the opening game of the Lafayette regional at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field, but he dominated it, throwing four perfect innings as second-seeded Mississippi State defeated No. 3 San Diego State 5-2.
San Diego was retired quickly and efficiently by Gentry, who threw 34 pitches and retired all 12 Aztecs batters he faced.
Gentry and Bulldogs starter Trevor Fitts combined to retire 17 of the last 18 San Diego State batters, as MSU maneuvered into a winners bracket game at 6 p.m. Saturday.
MSU (38-22) will play the winner of Friday night’s Jackson State-Louisiana Lafayette contest.
San Diego State (42-20) scored two runs in the second inning on a leadoff double from catcher Brad Haynal, who scored on a hit by designated hitter Steven Pallares.
Left fielder Seby Zavala added the final SDSU run when he raced home from third on a fielder’s choice.
Aztecs second baseman Tim Zier credited Fitts and Gentry.
“After that second inning, I think (Fitts) did a really good job of throwing his off-speed (pitch) and making us chase a lot,” Zier said. “When we got to him, he was leaving himself up a little bit.”
Gentry’s wide array of pitches kept the Aztecs off balance, Zier said.
“(Gentry) just mixed his pitches and kept them down. When we did square him up, they were in his favor,” Zier said.
Bulldogs coach John Cohen wasn’t surprised by Gentry’s effectiveness.
“We felt (Gentry) would be a good matchup for us,” Cohe said. “We knew he was going to be our go-to guy. San Diego is pretty right-hand dominant and we felt like he was the right guy for us.”
The appearance for Gentry, a sophomore from Gulfport, Mississippi, was his 18th, all in relief.
Mississippi State scored four in the bottom of the second to take a 4-2 lead.
Alex Detz hit a two-out singled and went to second when shortstop Evan Potter was slow tossing the ball to Zier, who was covering the bag in an attempt to force Detz.
SDSU starter Mark Seyler then allowed a hit to Matthew Britton and walked leadoff hitter C.T. Bradford. Jake Vickerson then cleaned the bases with a triple.
SDSU assistant coach Mark Martinez said the infield error was big.
“If you look at it, we get out of the inning and throw up a zero. I thought (Seyler) delivered the right pitch. We got a ground ball and we just made a poor decision at short,” Martinez said.
The other factor was Mississippi State’s pitching, Martinez said.
“We started chasing pitches outside the zone and their guys did a good job of throwing pitches that were decision pitches and they retired 16 in a row to finish the game,” he said.
“It was more our guys getting outside of themselves and not making adjustments on the fly, something we’ve done very well all year and we just didn’t do it today.”