STARKVILLE, MS (WLBT) - A low-scoring game early turned into a 9-8 nail bitter at the end, as the No. 8 Mississippi State baseball program closed out a series sweep of Maine on Sunday (March 10) at Dudy Noble Field. It was the 11th-straight win for the Diamond Dawgs.
The Bulldogs (15-1) owned a 6-2 lead heading into the sixth inning, but the Black Bears (0-13) scored five times in the fifth to take a 7-6 lead. State tied the game in the bottom of the inning, as Rowdey Jordan was hit by a pitch, stole a pair of bases and scored on a Landon Jordan single.
Mississippi State took the lead back in the eighth, as Landon Jordan and Gunner Halter both singled to start the inning, before Jake Mangum knocked in the first run of the frame. Elijah MacNamee plated the second run of the inning – and what was the eventual game-winning run – with a two-out single to make it 9-7 heading to the ninth inning.
Graduate student Cole Gordon entered to throw the ninth inning, but allowed the first three batters to reach base, two via base hit and a walk to load the bases. After a fielder’s choice cut a run down at the plate, Colin Ridley pulled main within one, 9-8, with a sacrifice fly, but Gordon got a groundout to end the game for his fifth save of the season.
Junior Colby White (1-0) threw a scoreless eighth inning to earn his first victory in the maroon and white, while redshirt-junior Trysten Barlow turned in 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief out of the bullpen.
Sophomore Justin Foscue hit his fifth home run of the season, a three-run shot in the fifth inning, while junior Dustin Skelton smacked his fourth home run of the year in the fourth inning. Skelton, Landon Jordan and MacNamee each posted multi-hit games, with Skelton adding two RBIs, as well.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis
On playing a tight game
“It’s probably good in that way and we came out on top. Our bullpen has been so good that it's been a luxury. Today we had a little hiccup there in the middle of the game and just didn’t throw enough strikes. It was good for us to fight back and have to come through. I hope we don’t see that too often. If somebody beats us, they beat us. In the ninth, Cole Gordon gives up a couple hits, I can live with that. We just have to pound the strike zone.”
Graduate student Cole Gordon
On the offense finding the timely hit
“I think they have been right on the edge all season, hard hit balls all the time every game. Some of them weren’t falling and today they fell. [We] had a couple of big home runs. That’s what we are going to be about. We're going to be about picking each other up, we're a team and that’s what happens in baseball.”
Keegan James – Tossed five innings and allowed two runs on four hits in a no decision. Struck out five and walked two.
Elijah MacNamee – Moved his hitting streak to seven games and reached base streak to 11 games with a two-hit outing. Added one RBI and scored one run.
Justin Foscue – Hit is fifth home run of the season and drove in four RBIs in the game for his fifth multi-RBI game of the year.
Dustin Skelton – Posted his fourth multi-hit game of the season and third multi-RBI effort of 2019. Hit his fourth home run of the season in the fourth inning.
Hernen Sardinas – Had three hits and drove in two RBIs.
Five Through Eight – The No. 5-8 hitters in the lineup contributed three hits, four runs scored and five RBIs in the game for Maine.
The inning started with Jake Mangum reaching via error and Tanner Allen followed with a walk. Mangum and Allen each moved up via stolen base, with Mangum scoring on a groundout by Justin Foscue. Allen scored on a Dustin Skelton RBI single in the next at bat to make it a 2-0 game.
Mississippi State 2, Maine 0
Skelton added his second RBI of the game with a solo home run to left field.
Mississippi State 3, Maine 0
A leadoff double by Bobby Brennan was followed by a single from Cody Pasic to put runners on the corners with no outs. Jeffrey Omohundro followed with a sacrifice fly to center field and, following a ground out, Hernen Sardinas singled to plate the second run of the inning.
Mississippi State 3, Maine 2
After Maine collected the first two outs of the inning quickly, Allen and Elijah MacNamee collected two-out singles to put two runners on for Foscue. The sophomore added three RBIs with his fifth home run of the season to left field.
Mississippi State 6, Maine 2
The Black Bears took their first lead of the weekend with a five-run sixth inning, forcing Mississippi State to use four pitchers. After the first three batters reach against reliever Peyton Plumlee, Jack Eagan entered and struck out the first batter he faced. A pair of walks followed, pushing two runs across, before Brandon Smith came on and walked in the third run of the inning. A fielder’s choice pushed the fourth run of the frame across, forcing MSU to bring in Trysten Barlow. A Sardinas infield single plated the fifth run of the inning, before Barlow struck out the final batter of the frame.
Maine 7, Mississippi State 6
State scratched across the tying run in the bottom of the sixth when Rowdey Jordan was hit by a pitch to start the inning, before stealing second and third base. Landon Jordan brought him home with an RBI single up the middle, but that was all the Bulldogs could get in the frame, leaving two runners on base.
Mississippi State 7, Maine 7
Three-straight singles started the eighth inning for State, with Landon Jordan and Gunner Halter each reaching via the bunt variety. Mangum followed with an RBI single up the middle to give MSU the lead, 8-7. After a double play and a pitching change, MacNamee singled through the left side to score the ninth run of the game for State.
Mississippi State 9, Maine 7
Back-to-back base hits started the ninth inning against reliever Cole Gordon and a walk to Danny Casals loaded the bases with no outs. A fielder’s choice cut down a run at home for the first out, but Colin Ridley pulled Maine within one, 9-8, with a sacrifice fly to right field. Gordon got the final out via groundout for his fifth save of the season.
Maine 7, Mississippi State 6
The Bulldogs will close out the six-game homestand with a mid-week home contest versus Grambling on Wednesday, March 13. Tickets are just $2 for all midweek home games, with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Dudy Noble Field.