GAINSVILLE, FL (WLBT) - The Mississippi State baseball program split a pair of games in a top-five showdown at McKethan Stadium, as the No. 5 Bulldogs claimed the first game of the day, 10-5, before dropping a 4-1 decision to the No. 4 Gators in the nightcap.
With the game one win, Mississippi State’s (18-2, 2-1 SEC) winning streak sat at 14 games, matching the 1985 squad’s streak that is No. 4 all-time at MSU. Florida (15-7, 1-2 SEC) got the second game of the day behind a solid start from Tyler Dyson to halt the streak.
In game one, the Mississippi State offense got rolling early, as senior Jake Mangum hit a leadoff home run to open the game. It was the first of three home runs for the Bulldogs in the opening game of the day, as sophomore Tanner Allen and senior Elijah MacNamee also went yard.
In all, six Diamond Dawgs collected multi-hit games in the opener, led by a career-high-tying three hits from junior Dustin Skelton. MacNamee and Mangum each had three hits, with all three of Mangum’s going for extra bases. Sophomore’s Justin Foscue, Josh Hatcher and Allen all chipped in a pair of hits in the first contest of the day.
Freshman JT Ginn (5-0) threw 6 1/3 innings to earn the win in his fifth start of the season. He didn’t walk a batter and fanned 11 for his first career double-digit strikeout game. He surrendered 10 hits and gave up four runs.
Senior Jared Liebelt entered the game in the seventh with a runner on first and one out and protected the 7-3 lead. The right-hander tossed the final 2 2/3 innings to earn his second save of the season. He allowed one run on a ninth-inning home run and struck out one.
In the second game, the Dawgs got out to a 1-0 lead on a Jordan Westburg RBI double, but Florida scored three runs in the fourth and one in the fifth to grab a hold of the momentum. State scratched across a run in the seventh and nearly grabbed the lead, but Mangum’s flyball to the wall in left field was caught as the UF outfielder corralled what would have scored two runs as he crashed into the wall.
Hatcher and MacNamee both collected two more hits in the second game of the day, while Halter and Westburg each had RBI hits in the series finale.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis
On how the weekend went for his team
“After you win the first two, you usually get greedy and want the third [win]. That is always the hard part of losing the third game of the series. I am happy for our guys. We played hard. We played with a lot of intensity. We competed all weekend long, even in the nightcap. That was a really good game, and some balls just went their way and not ours. That is one of the best teams in the country and I am really happy with our effort.”
Game One Homers – MSU hit three home runs in the first game to equal its highest single-game total of the season (Southern Miss, 2/23). Tanner Allen, Elijah MacNamee and Jake Mangum all hit home runs.
Extra Base Dawgs – Of the 25 hits over two games on Saturday, 12 of those went for extra bases. State had nine of those in game one and pounded out three more in the nightcap.
JT Ginn – Started game one and struck out 11 while not walking a batter in 6 1/3 innings to earn his fifth-straight victory to start the season. He allowed four runs on 10 hits to improve to 5-0 on the year.
Jared Liebelt – Collected his second save of the season with 2 2/3 innings of one-run relief. He allowed one hit and struck out one.
Jake Mangum – Collected three hits in game one to move into No. 21 on the SEC’s all-time hits chart at 306. Moved into No. 3 all-time in career doubles (58) at Mississippi State with a pair of two-base hits in the opener. Mangum totaled a career-high eight total bases in the first game of the day.
Dustin Skelton – Tied a career high with three hits in game one and added a pinch-hit double in the nightcap.
Josh Hatcher – Started both games and posted four hits on the day. Drove in one RBI and scored one run in the doubleheader.
Tyler Dyson – Threw six innings in a game-two start and allowed just two runs on six hits.
Kris Armstrong – Entered game one on the mound and hit for himself, throwing a scoreless inning and hitting a home run in the first game of the day. Went 2-for-3 at the plate in game two with a double and one RBI.
Nelson Maldonado – Went 4-for-8 on the day with a double, home run and two runs scored. Three of his four hits came in the series finale.
Game One Scoring Recap
Jake Mangum started the game with a bang, hitting the third pitch of the game deep to right field for his first home run of the season. His last two home runs have been leadoff home runs in the state of Florida, as he also led off a neutral site game versus Samford in the 2018 NCAA Tallahassee Regional with a home run.
Mississippi State 1, Florida. 0
Neither outfielder moved on Tanner Allen’s home run to right-center field, as his third home run of the season gave MSU a 2-0 lead.
Mississippi State 2, Florida. 0
Back-to-back two-out doubles accounted for the lone run of the fifth inning, as Gunner Halter and Mangum both went to right-center field, with Mangum collecting his second RBI of the contest.
Mississippi State 3, Florida. 0
Elijah MacNamee hit a one-out solo home run and Josh Hatcher’s RBI single was the final of three-straight hits to follow, accounting for the two-run frame.
Mississippi State 5, Florida. 0
Florida cracked the scoreboard with a two-out RBI single from Austin Langworthy, scoring Wil Dalton who singled with one out. Dalton was off on the full-count pitch to Langworth and came all the way around to score from first on the single through the right side.
Mississippi State 5, Florida 1
Mangum and Jordan Westburg opened the inning with back-to-back doubles, as Westburg collected an RBI on his two-bagger. After two outs were recorded, Justin Foscue singled to plate Westburg to move the State lead to six runs.
Mississippi State 7, Florida 1
Florida got three runs off of JT Ginn, before Jared Liebelt came on to collect the final two outs of the inning. In the inning, the first three hitters reached base, with a pair of singles to start the frame. With two on and no outs, Brady McConnell’s ground-rule double scored two runs. After Ginn’s 11th strikeout of the game, Kendrick Calilao drove in the third run of the inning, before Liebelt came on to collect the final two outs.
Mississippi State 7, Florida. 4
Three more runs in the ninth inning gave State a six-run cushion, as Allen started the inning with a single and moved to third on a MacNamee double. Foscue then grounded to shortstop and the throw across the diamond was wide of the bag, allowing both base runners to score. Dustin Skelton then delivered the final MSU run of the game via an RBI double.
Mississippi State 10, Florida 4
Kris Armstrong came on to pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning and struck out two batters. He also entered in the designated hitter spot and came up with two outs in the ninth to hit his first home run of the season.
Mississippi State 10, Florida 5
Game Two Scoring Recap
Josh Hatcher started the inning with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Jordan Westburg delivered a double to score the first run of the game.
Mississippi State 1, Florida 0
Nine batters came to the plate in the fourth inning for Florida, with Nelson Maldonado starting the inning with a double. Wil Dalton singled to move Maldonado to third and Keegan James balked to bring in the first run of the inning. Kris Armstrong doubled to score Dalton and Brady Smith followed with an RBI single to make it a 3-1 game in favor of the home team.
Florida 3, Mississippi State 1
Maldonado started the fifth inning with an extra base hit, as well, his third home run of the season.
Florida 4, Mississippi State 1
State manufactured a run in the seventh, as Luke Hancock walked to start the frame and Rowdey Jordan pinch ran. After a Gilbert base hit moved Jordan to second, Gunner Halter delivered a one out RBI single, but the Gators got the final two outs without further damage. The second out of the frame was a Mangum flyball that was caught as the Gator outfielder crashed into the wall to save at least one run from scoring.
Florida 4, Mississippi State 2
A five-game week awaits the Bulldogs, beginning with a midweek contest against Little Rock on Tuesday, March 19 (6:30 p.m.) at Dudy Noble Field. A road tilt at Samford on Wednesday, March 20 will start at 6 p.m., before a weekend series with Auburn kicks off on Friday, March 22 at 6:30 at Dudy Noble Field.