COLUMBIA, South Carolina – Michigan State plated two runs in the top of the sixth inning and added an insurance run in the seventh to break a 2-all tie and defeat UNCW, 5-2, in the Gamecock Invitational Friday at Beckham Field.

The Spartans improved to 3-5 on the young season as they halted a three-game losing skid with the victory while the Seahawks saw their season mark evened at 4-4..  

Junior Carley Nielson finished with three hits, two runs scored and a run batted in to pace a Spartans roster that recorded 10 base knocks in the contest. Freshmen Lindsey Besson and Kassidy Kujawa both went 2-for-4 with a run scored while three MSU players ended the contest with one hit apiece.  

Junior Kristen Jernigan was 2-for-3 with a RBI to lead a Seahawks lineup that finished with seven base hits. Five players tallied one hit apiece for the Seahawks, including sophomore Jordin Phillips, who drove the other UNCW run with a single in the second.

Freshman Valerie Kaff (2-2) picked up the win for the Spartans, allowing two runs on six hits and one walk in 5.1 innings of work. Senior Kelly Smith replaced Kaff in the sixth and allowed just one hit and struck out three over the final 1.2 innings to pick up her first save of the season.

Junior Casey Rowland (2-2) took the loss for the Seahawks as she allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits and three walks in five innings of work. Freshman Jordan Peyton replaced Rowland in the fifth and surrendered one run on five hits in two innings in the circle.  

UP NEXT: UNCW continues its appearance in the Game Invitational Saturday with a 10 a.m. contest against Georgetown.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Michigan State took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as a run-scoring single from junior Ellie Stofer scored freshman Sarah Gutknecht, who reached base earlier in the frame on a walk.

The Seahawks drew even in the bottom of the second when sophomore Jordin Phillips singled to right field to score junior Kristen Jernigan, who put herself into scoring position with triple to right two batters earlier.

The Spartans regained their one-run advantage in the fourth when Nielson reached on an error and later scored on a wild pitch to put MSU in front, 2-1. Jernigan brought UNCW level at 2-2 in the bottom half of the frame with a single through the right side to plate senior Morgan Ayers, who opened the frame with a single.

Michigan State pulled in front once again in the sixth, using RBI singles from Kujawa and junior Stephanie Sanders to gain a 4-2 edge.

Nielson added an insurance run with a two-out single in the top of the seventh to give the Spartans a 5-2 margin.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE: The Seahawks moved runners into scoring position in three of their first four innings at the plate … Michigan State had its leadoff hitter reach base in four of seven innings while UNCW had its leadoff hitter get on base just once in seven tries … Both teams committed just one error during the contest … The two teams combined to leave 17 runners on base (Michigan State 11, UNCW 6) … Both teams turned a double play during the contest … There was only one extra-base hit in the contest, a triple by Jernigan in the second.

NOTES: Friday’s contest served as the second meeting between UNCW and Michigan State and the first since the 2009 season … The Spartans have won both contests in the series … The triple in the second inning by Jernigan was the first of her career … Senior Brittany Gamby recorded a base hit in the contest, giving a hit in each of the team’s last three contests … Phillips and Jernigan both picked up their first RBI of the season.