Mississippi State and Southern Mississippi put on a great display of college baseball in the sport’s premier facility this weekend, so it’s only fitting Sunday’s rubber match between the in-state rivals was decided in the game’s final at bat. The Bulldogs got an RBI double from sophomore Tanner Allen to walk-off the Golden Eagles in a 4-3 decision to give the maroon and white the win and the series. State had a 3-1 lead before Southern rolled off two runs in the sixth in a two out rally. State got two scoreless innings of relief from Cole Gordon, who extended his streak without a run to 20.2 IP.
WINNER WINNER EAGLE DINNER
TANNER FREAKIN' ALLEN!#HailState🐶 pic.twitter.com/JOB8uXBN44
— Mississippi State Baseball ⚾️ (@HailStateBB) February 24, 2019
Mississippi State’s ninth inning started routine enough, with JT Ginn striking out and Jake Mangum flying out to right. With two down, it was up to Jordan Westburg, whose grounder to short was routine enough, but a poor throw by USM’s Storme Cooper pulled first baseman Hunter Slater off the bag, and he couldn’t make the tag. MSU’s Tanner Allen made the Golden Eagles pay, turning on the first pitch he saw for a line drive into right field. Westburg made it home all the way from first, and the Bulldogs had their series victory.
GORDON KEEPS FIRING
I love how much confidence @HailStateBB has in Cole Gordon in tight spots. Wallner coming up with a man on in the 9th? Foxhall goes to visit the mound – and Gordon attacks him with heaters, but winds up walking him after a good battle. But Gordon escapes as usual with a groundout
— Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) February 24, 2019
We may never know why or how Cole Gordon was able to turn his entire MSU career around at last year’s Tallahassee regional, but the Bulldog senior has been absolutely lights out from that point all the way into this season’s first two weeks. Gordon is pitching with the kind of confidence you have to have as a reliever, and right now he is the Bulldog stopper. It will definitely be something to follow as the bullpen roles for MSU become more clearly defined in the coming weeks, but right now, if State needs an out, you have to think Gordon is the first call.
ALL TALK BUT NO ACTION
“I think they went to Omaha or something?”
Matt Wallner, who was 2-for-4 with 5 RBIs, on facing Mississippi St. next weekend. pic.twitter.com/oceXJ3Zujn
— Andrew Abadie (@AndrewAbadie) February 17, 2019
Matt Wallner was one of the top players in college baseball a season ago, a consensus top 100 player on every list coming into 2019, and coming off a fine opening weekend that saw him go for 5-12 against Purdue. After that series win, Wallner was asked about Mississippi State, and as you can see above, he had some pointed comments about the Bulldogs. Unfortunately for USM, talking was all Wallner could do this weekend, as MSU stymied him to the tune of 0-10 at the plate this weekend, dropping his average from .417 to .227 . USM’s hitting and defense simply weren’t up to par for the Golden Eagles to come and take the series from a good SEC team, and had it’s Friday starting pitching not been lights out, Southern would have been looking at being swept. There’s still a lot of baseball to be played, but the Eagles have some big questions they need to answer in the coming weeks.
8 DAYS until the best weekend of the year! ⚾️ Secure your tickets at https://t.co/DVAso1ZDB8 and learn more about our all inclusive add-ons 🥤 pic.twitter.com/9RbozDYVth
— Frisco Classic (@FriscoClassic) February 21, 2019
State has two midweek home games against Jackson State and Southeastern Louisiana before traveling west for three games in the Frisco Classic. That Saturday matchup with Texas Tech is the one to watch, the Red Raiders are currently ranked third by d1baseball.com and as of this writing are well on their way to sweeping Kentucky. If State can get two wins at all this weekend, it will do a lot for their RPI in the months to come, a win over Tech would be the kind of victory you can circle as a reason to host when June arrives.
As you can guess, Joel Coleman and I will have a loaded Thunder & Lightning Podcast for you later this evening, and we’ll recap all the MSU victories from the weekend on Monday’s SportsTalk Mississippi.
Photo courtesy of Mississippi State athletics