Jake Vickerson scores the winning run against the LSU Tigers. Photo courtesy of @HailStateBB.
This hasn’t been the year that the seniors of the Mississippi State Baseball team expected. You could say that about virtually every fan, player, and coach with this team. But the seniors were in Omaha just two years ago and trying to win the Bulldogs their first ever National Championship in any sport.
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So it had to be even more difficult to run out on Dudy Noble Field knowing that it would be the last time for all of the seniors that have seen this program reach heights that it never has, only to watch it crumble to depths it has rarely scratched. But none of that mattered on Sunday. The only thing that mattered would be getting a win over the #1 team in baseball to avoid a sweep.
And that is what the Bulldogs did. Despite some late inning blunders, which we have come to expect this season, the Bulldogs avoided the sweep and sent the seniors out as winners on their final game at Dudy Noble Field.
It started with Ross Mitchell. Of all the players to stumble, no one has stumbled as much as Ross Mitchell. Mitchell was an All American his sophomore season. It had been a while since Mississippi State had won a game that Ross Mitchell had pitched in.
Just over two months, to be a little more exact. Mitchell pitched 4.1 innings and gave up 0 earned runs. Mitchell had a chance to be the winning pitcher in the game, but another senior, Seth Heck, would commit an error at Third Base that allowed three unearned runs to score and tie the game in the 9th inning.
Seth Heck was like a lot of the Bulldogs. He got off to a fast start in the first 13 games of the season, but cooled off tremendously after that. He has still played well, but it was a shell of the early version of Heck that we saw. Heck could have been the goat, but he would redeem himself in extra innings.
After the Tigers tied the game in the 9th, both teams were held scoreless until the 12th. That’s when the seniors stepped up again. Jake Vickerson would get a one out double in the bottom half of the inning. And that brought the player who would be the goat up. Heck singled and Vickerson would score the go winning run.
This has been a wildly disappointing season. And the criticism of the team has been loud and clear. But even still, one of the lasting images of this season might be the bear hug Wes Rea gave Jake Vickerson after Vickerson scored the winning run. And speaking of Wes Rea, he left a message for Bulldog fans.