Mississippi State Baseball: State takes two out of three from rival Ole Miss
The 2021 edition of Super Bulldog Weekend did not disappoint, as 34,151 fans showed up to Dudy Noble Field over the course of the three days to watch No. 4 Mississippi State (27-8, 10-5 SEC) take the series, two games to one, over No. 6 Ole Miss (26-10, 9-6 SEC).
The Bulldogs continue their domination of the rivalry, winning 16 of the last 19 meetings on the diamond. The series’ win also catapults State into second place in the SEC West at the halfway point, just one game behind No. 1 Arkansas.
The trio of Christian MacLeod, Preston Johnson, and Landon Sims held a potent Rebel lineup to just six hits and two runs on Friday night, and Kamren James and Tanner Allen led the way offensively in a 5-2 Bulldog win.
Allen went 3-4 with a double, while James was 2-2 with a home run and four RBIs. James’ sacrifice fly in the sixth inning broke a 2-2 tie, and Mississippi State added two more in the eighth Sims once again slammed the door shut in the final two innings to give State a win in the opener.
Johnson (1-0) earned the win in relief of MacLeod, going 2.0 innings, allowing one hit and striking out four.
Saturday was a different story. Ole Miss dominated from the first pitch and cruised to a 9-0 win behind a complete-game shutout from left-hander Doug Nikhazy. The Rebels battered Bulldog pitching all afternoon, pounding out 17 hits and six extra-base hits in the rout.
Mississippi State managed just one hit off of Nikhazy, a fifth-inning single up the middle by Brayland Skinner. It was a day to forget for those in maroon and white as Ole Miss tied up the series at a game apiece.
With a series win over a rival and sole possession of the second in the SEC West on the line, Game 3 was sure to bring fireworks. State struck first in the all-important rubber match in the second inning on an RBI single by Lane Forsythe.
The Rebels responded immediately in the third with a run of their own as Bulldog starter Jackson Fristoe walked Hayden Dunhurst with the bases loaded to tie the game.
Hayden Leatherwood lined a home run to right field in the fourth to give Ole Miss a one-run lead, but that was erased in the bottom of the fifth when Rowdey Jordan launched a no-doubter over the right field wall to tie the game at 2.
Leatherwood answered with another homer of his own, this one a two-run shot to right to give the Rebels a 4-2 lead in the sixth. After a Luke Hancock flyout to left field opened things up in the bottom of the sixth, Bianco pulled starter Drew McDaniel in favor of freshman Josh Mallitz.
Mallitz was greeted with three straight hits, and Mississippi State pulled within one after a Brayland Skinner RBI single to right field. Austin Miller replaced Mallitz on the mound and struck out Forsythe to record the second out of the inning.
After Miller got ahead of Scotty Dubrule 0-2 at the plate, Dubrule delivered a huge 2-out base hit to left field, plating Josh Hatcher to tie it at 4. Rowdey Jordan legged out an infield single to load the bases for Tanner Allen.
Taylor Broadway entered the game to halt the Bulldog threat, but he fell behind Allen 2-0 to start the at-bat. The next pitch, a 95 mph fastball, left the bat even faster, heading into the right-center field gap. Allen had delivered the biggest hit of the weekend, a bases-clearing triple to give State a 7-4 lead.
Parker Stinnett came on in the seventh for Mississippi State and stranded the bases loaded to keep the three-run lead.
The Rebels managed a run in the eighth on a throwing error by Kamren James, cutting State’s lead to 7-5 heading into the final frame.
Lemonis turned to Landon Sims to close the door for the second time in the series. Sims struck out Peyton Chatagnier and induced a flyout to left field from Kevin Graham. After Hayden Dunhurst reached an error by Lane Forsythe, Sims got Justin Bench to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the ballgame and give State the series win.
With the win and Arkansas’ loss to Texas A&M on Sunday, Mississippi State is just one game back of the Razorbacks in the SEC West. Ole Miss falls a game back of MSU after the weekend.
A series at No. 2 Vanderbilt awaits Mississippi State next after a midweek contest with UAB. The Bulldog bats will need to be on full display all weekend long for State to win a tough series in Nashville.
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