STARKVILLE, MS (WLBT) - Behind a pair of solid pitching performances, the No. 8 Mississippi State baseball program ran its winning streak to 10 games with a doubleheader sweep of Maine on Friday (March 8) at Dudy Noble Field. The Bulldogs grabbed game one by a score of 9-2, before taking the second game by a final of 5-1.
Each game followed a similar path, with State (14-1) using a multi-run inning to open the scoring before scratching across runs to gain the cushion on the Black Bears (0-11). The two wins pushed State’s winning streak to 10 games. It is the longest winning streak since winning 12 games from April 30-May 25, 2016.
Redshirt-junior Ethan Small (1-0) got the start in game one and threw six innings and allowed one unearned run. The left-hander fanned 10 batters and walked his first two batters of the season, but earned his first win of the year. Senior Jared Liebelt tossed the final three innings and allowed one run on four hits with three strikeouts to earn his first career save.
Sophomore Jordan Westburg hit his first home run of the season in game one – a three-run shot in the fifth inning and added another RBI later to account for four total runs batted in during game one. Six different Bulldogs posted multi-hit games in the first contest, as seniors Elijah MacNamee and Jake Mangum, junior Gunner Halter, sophomores Westburg, Justin Foscue, and freshman Hayden Jones all collected two hits.
The second game featured six strong innings on the mound for freshman JT Ginn (4-0), who allowed one run on six hits. He fanned eight batters and didn’t issue a walk to win his fourth-straight decision to start his career. The trio of freshman Brandon Smith, junior Colby White and graduate student Cole Gordon each tossed one scoreless frame to close it out, as the three combined to strike out five hitters and not allow a base runner.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis
On the duo of Ethan Small and JT Ginn
“The last couple of weeks they have been really good. Both of them were still good today, Ethan walked his first two guys of the year. And I give them [Maine] credit, they put some balls in play, found some holes, put a little pressure on us. We maybe don’t make a couple of plays that we could make that caused us a little bit of stress early, but they both just compete. They’re really good. It’s nice having those two guys run out there, game one and two.”
On what he likes about his team right now
“I think we’ve figured out our roles. We’ve [had] a chance to see our guys in some different environments. We’ve played on the road. My biggest concerns coming in [to the season] was the bullpen. Maybe they’ve exceeded expectations because those guys have really done a nice job. I think that’s what makes us really special in some ways is we have a power bullpen and we know we have a couple of really good starters. And our offense is gritty. You can say we’re power, or speed, or whatever, but they’re just tough and they show up to compete and they love to play the game.”
Senior Jake Mangum
On sweeping the doubleheader
“Anytime you win, that’s good. I think we’re 14-1 right now, so sign me up…We look good. We have a little day off tomorrow, we’ll get some things going a little bit, straighten some things out that we need to work on, get a good lift in and be ready to go on Sunday.”
Freshman JT Ginn
On what was working for him against Maine
“The fastball was good tonight. I feel like command was shaky at some points, but we just [let Maine] hit it in after the first two innings and I was able to get it out. Then I get to the bullpen and let those guys switch it up.”
Winning Streak – The Bulldogs have now won 10-striaight games to mark the longest winning streak since reeling off 12-straight victories from April 30-May 25, 2016.
Starting Pitching – The duo of Ethan Small and JT Ginn combined to throw 12 innings in two starts. They allowed just two runs – one earned – struck out 18 batters and walked only two. The duo allowed just nine hits – one for extra bases – and each collected the win.
Cole Gordon – Extended his scoreless innings streak to 24 2/3 innings with a perfect ninth inning in game two. Struck out two and got a flyout to end the game.
Gunner Halter – Posted four hits, scored three runs and drove in one RBI in two games.
Elijah MacNamee – Had four hits, scored two runs and stole one base in the two games.
Starting Nine – The same lineup started each game for MSU, with eight of the nine starters collecting at least one hit and seven of those posting multiple hits during the doubleheader.
Danny Casals – Collected three hits – including a double – stole two bases and scored one run.
Joe Bramanti – Drove in one RBI and reached base three times in two games.
Cody Pasic – Doubled and drove in one RBI in a game one start.
Game One Scoring Recap
Hayden Jones started the fifth inning with a leadoff single, stole second base before a Gunner Halter infield single to third base put runners on first and second with one out. Jake Mangum drove in the first run of the game with an RBI single, before Jordan Westburg delivered his first home run of the season – a three-run shot – to push the lead to 4-0.
Mississippi State 4, Maine 0
The Black Bears got an unearned run in the frame thanks to a throwing error by Justin Foscue and an RBI ground from Joe Bramanti. After recording the first out of the frame, Ethan Small allowed a single to Caleb Krebs, which was followed by a base hit from Danny Casals. On Casals hit, Foscue made a diving stop on the ball, but his throw was wide, allowing Krebs to advance to third. Krebs came in to score on a Bramanti fielder’s choice.
Mississippi State 4, Maine 1
Maine starter Nick Silva retired the first two batters he faced before three-straight hits accounted for two runs and ended Silva’s night. Jones started the rally with a double to right-center field and Rowdey Jordan followed with an RBI single. After Jordan stole second base, Halter singled to score the second run of the inning and end the outing for Silva. After Nicholas Sincola entered the game Mangum delivered his second RBI single of the night, following a Halter stolen base.
Mississippi State 7, Maine 1
Elijah MacNamee singled with one-out and moved to third on a Foscue single, before scoring on a wild pitch.
Mississippi State 8, Maine 1
Pinch hitter Landon Jordan started the inning with a one-out double and Westburg drove him in with a two-out single through the right side of the infield.
Mississippi State 9, Maine 1
Jared Liebelt worked his third inning of relief and yielded one run on three hits to close out his first career save. Cody Panic drove in the run with an RBI double, scoring Bobby Brennan, who reached via a two-out single.
Mississippi State 9, Maine 2
Game Two Scoring Recap
A leadoff single by MacNamee was followed by a single to center field by Foscue, which was misplayed by the center fielder, allowing MacNamee to score from first on the error. Dustin Skelton pushed two runs across the plate a batter later with his third home run of the season to left-center field.
Mississippi State 3, Maine 0
Maine got on the board via a sacrifice fly against MSU starter JT Ginn, as Casals singled with one out in the inning, moved to second on a balk and stole third base. Bramanti plated the run with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Mississippi State 3, Maine 1
Landon Jordan doubled to start the inning as a pinch hitter and moved to third on a flyball to center field by Tanner Allen and scored on a passed ball.
Mississippi State 4, Maine 1
The bases were loaded following a Halter single, Mangum reaching on an error and an intentional walk to Landon Jordan, as Allen plated the lone run of the frame with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Mississippi State 5, Maine 1
Mississippi State and Maine will have a day off before the series finale will see a noon first pitch on Sunday, March 10. The first set of Bulldog Baseball trading Cards will be distributed on Sunday and it is Kids Day at the Park Presented by Le Bohneur, with Kids Run the Bases Postgame (weather permitting).