STARKVILLE, MS (WLBT) - With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game, the No. 9 Mississippi State baseball program capitalized on the third error of the game by No. 21 Southern Miss, as sophomore Tanner Allen sent the Dudy Noble Field faithful home happy with a walk-off RBI double that scored classmate Jordan Westburg from first on Sunday (Feb. 24) afternoon.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Westburg reached on a throwing error by the USM shortstop to extend the inning. Allen then ripped the first pitch he saw from reliever Ryan Och into the right-field corner and Westburg slid home safely before the throw could get to the plate.
It was a game of momentum shifts, as State (6-1) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but Southern Miss (4-2) answered with one in the top of the third inning. MSU responded with two runs of its own in the bottom of the third inning, with Elijah MacNamee driving in both runs with a single up the middle.
With the Bulldogs leading, 3-1, the Golden Eagles got a solo home run from Hunter LeBlanc and an RBI hit from Fred Franklin to tie the score at three apiece.
It was a battle of the bullpens, as five MSU relievers combined for six innings of two-run work and USM’s bullpen totaled 6 1/3 innings and allowed just one unearned run.
Graduate student Cole Gordon (2-0) picked up his second victory on the season with two innings of scoreless relief to run his scoreless innings streak to 20 2/3 innings of work dating back to the 2018 season. Redshirt-junior Trysten Barlow made his second appearance of the weekend and got out of a two-on, two-out jam in the sixth inning and tossed a perfect seventh inning.
State left eight runners on base Southern Miss stranded 11 runners, while State left eight runners on base. Of the eight stranded for the Diamond Dawgs, seven of those came over the first five innings.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis
On what he learned about his team this weekend
“The fight, we all look at Tanner Allen’s swing, what big swing that was. But Jordan Westburg had really tough, hard-nose at bat. Those last two guys threw really good for us to keep fighting and moving. And the play at the end, just getting down the line [to reach on the error] and then watching [Westburg] score on the hit, it just shows you the tenacity he plays with. Our guys just wouldn’t give in. I don’t think we made an error today. They just played really good defense. Especially in the game, you feel that momentum of the game was going the other way late, but they just kept playing.”
On Cole Gordon
“He’s just been there and done it. He’s a plus strike thrower. If they beat us there at the end they are going to hit a ball that’s usually not going to [be hit],because he gave a freebie. He’s a great leader and a guy we lean on.”
Sophomore Tanner Allen
On what he was thinking after he hit the ball in the ninth
“I just got done telling Westy [Jordan Westburg] that as soon as I hit first base I was thinking in my head, ‘he better be running,’ because I knew it was going to be close [at home]. As soon as I got to second and saw where he was, I knew he was going to score. It’s a great feeling.”
Sophomore Jordan Westburg
On what he saw rounding second
“I saw Coach Cheesebrough waving me around while jumping around and I saw the way they were acting in the dugout. I didn’t know if there was going to be a play or not, but I knew I had gotten a good jump and I just tried to score and get that winning run in.”
Tanner Allen – Delivered the game-winning RBI with a two-out double into the right field corner. Added another RBI for his second-straight multi-RBI contest and fifth of the season.
Elijah MacNamee – Plated a pair of runs with a two-RBI single in the third inning. Had two hits and a walk in the contest.
Cole Gordon – Earned his second victory in relief with two scoreless innings of work. Didn’t allow a hit, walked three and fanned two.
Jordan Westburg – Reached base three times on the afternoon - two hits and a reached by error. Scored three of MSU’s four runs in the game, including the winning run.
‘Pen Innings – The Mississippi State bullpen racked up six innings of work on Sunday. The bullpen allowed two runs on five hits, walked four and struck out six hitters. Trysten Barlow and Gordon tossed the final 3 1/3 innings scoreless.
USM Bullpen – Neither starter went deep into the game, as the Southern Miss bullpen allowed just one unearned run in 6 1/3 innings of work. Four relievers scattered three hits, walked two and struck out eight Bulldog hitters.
Fred Franklin – Reached base three times – two walks and a single. Scored a third-inning run and drove in an RBI with a base hit in the sixth.
Hunter LeBlanc – Homered and walked.
Hunter Slater – Had a pair of hits, walked once and drove in an RBI in the game.
Jordan Westburg delivered the first hit of the game via a wind-aided double to shallow right center. Tanner Allen followed with a single through the right side of the infield, scoring Westburg and giving MSU the early lead.
Mississippi State 1, Southern Miss 0
Fred Franklin walked to start the frame and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt one batter later. After Keegan James got a strikeout for the second out of the frame, Matt Slater tied the game with a single to left field, scoring Franklin from second.
Mississippi State 1, Southern Miss 1
After a strikeout started the inning, Jake Mangum walked and moved to third on a Westburg base hit, before Allen was intentionally walked to load the bases. Elijah MacNamee came through with a two-RBI single up the middle to put the Bulldogs back into the lead.
Mississippi State 3, Southern Miss 1
Hunter LeBlanc pulled the Golden Eagles within a run with a two-out solo home run to right center field off of Jack Eagan. Eagan was relieved by Riley Self, who allowed a double to Storme Cooper and a game-tying RBI single to Fred Franklin. After another USM single, Trysten Barlow entered and got the final out of the frame.
Mississippi State 3, Southern Miss 3
Ryan Och came on in the ninth for Southern Miss and retired the first two hitters he faced via strikeout and then flyout. Westburg then reached on a throwing error by the USM shortstop and Allen ripped next pitch Och threw for a double into the right field corner, scoring Westburg from first to give MSU the walk-off victory.
Mississippi State 4, Southern Miss 3
The Diamond Dawgs prepare for the final two games of the season-opening nine-game homestand. Mississippi State will host Jackson State on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 4 p.m. before welcoming Southeastern Louisiana for a 5:30 p.m. start on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at Dudy Noble Field.