Mississippi State Baseball's run in Hoover comes to a close

Mississippi State baseball was eliminated from the SEC Tournament Friday night with their loss to Tennessee.
May 24 2024; Hoover, AL, USA; Mississippi State starting pitcher Pico Kohn delivers the ball to the plate against Tennessee at the Hoover Met during the SEC Tournament.
May 24 2024; Hoover, AL, USA; Mississippi State starting pitcher Pico Kohn delivers the ball to the plate against Tennessee at the Hoover Met during the SEC Tournament. / Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News / USA

Mississippi State baseball's time in Hoover has come to a close. After starting off SEC Tournament play 2-0 with electrifying wins over Ole Miss and Tennessee, the Diamond Dawgs dropped their next two games, officially being eliminated Friday night at the hands of the 1-seed Tennessee Volunteers in a 6-5 defeat.

State rallied back from a slow start to take a 5-3 lead over the Vols in the 5th inning, but Tennessee would answer with runs in the 7th and 8th to move back ahead and ultimately get the win.

The Bulldogs end their time in Hoover with a 38-21 record.

Big 5th inning not enough for Mississippi State

MSU's inconsistencies at the plate have been the main topic of discussion around this team for much of the year. Those inconsistencies were on full display in Hoover. MSU got away with them their first two games because of Connor Hujsak. They didn't in their last two.

The Bulldogs didn't have a hit through the first four innings against the Vols and trailed 3-0. A switch was flipped in the 5th. With two on base with two outs, back to back Dawgs walked to give State its first run.

Connor Hujsak stayed hot with a two RBI single to tie the game 3-3. After a bit of a scuffle between the two squads, Dakota Jordan, who'd been hitless for the tournament, finally broke his slump with a two run single to give State a 5-3 lead.

Unfortunately for State, that was all the offense could muster, as they reverted to their prior struggles. Meanwhile, momentum flipped back in favor of Tennessee.

They loaded the bases in the 7th with one out. A grounder to short led to an out at second, but Amani Larry bit off more than he could chew, attempting to turn a double-play and prevent any runs from scoring. His throw sailed past Hunter Hines, allowing Tennessee to plate two runs and tie the game.

In the 8th, Blake Burke hit a deep shot to right-center to put the Vols back ahead 6-5 for the winning run. State's pitching wasn't awful, but they were going to be tested by the Tennessee lineup, especially after the wear of the three prior days.

MSU needed a big day from its lineup to get the win, and they didn't get that.

To host or not to host?

That is the question on the mind of every college baseball writer when it comes to Mississippi State. There's been a wide range of opinions of the Bulldogs' hosting chances, and those opinions seem to change by the day if not the hour.

The variance comes down to the simple fact that State's resume is, well, not exactly simple. If you want to make the case for State as a host, you'd point to their #11 KPI rank (a new metric being used by the selection committee this year) and their impressive 16 Q1 victories. If you believe MSU should be on the road for regional play, you'd point to their #25 RPI ranking and their five Q4 losses.

Two data points say they're absolutely hosting. Two do not. What will the committee choose to value most? We have no idea! And that's especially true because we don't have prior examples of the committee factoring in KPI to know how much it plays a role.

It could really go either way for MSU. We'll find out on Sunday whether or not the Bulldogs will host a regional in Starkville, and on Monday, we'll learn the entire tournament field.