STARKVILLE, Miss. (MSU Athletics) – The sounds of gameday filled the air inside of Polk-Dement Stadium, as the No. 9 Mississippi State baseball program opened the 2020 season with a 9-6 victory over Wright State on Friday (Feb. 14) afternoon on Dudy Noble Field.
The Diamond Dawgs (1-0) took an early 2-0 lead, before the Raiders (0-1) answered back with five straight runs to make it 5-3 after the top of the fifth inning. A single MSU run in the sixth made it a one-run game, 5-4, before a six-run sixth gave the Bulldogs the lead for good. Wright State loaded the bases in the ninth inning with no outs, before junior Jared Shemper got the final three outs to seal the victory.
Two Diamond Dawgs made their first career starts for the Maroon and White, while eight total newcomers saw the field on Opening Day. Freshman Kamren James and sophomore Brandon Pimentel each earned starting nods in the field, and Logan Tanner caught the final six innings in his MSU debut. James was able to collect his first career hit, a second-inning single.
On the mound, graduate student Carlisle Koestler, junior Chase Patrick, junior Jaxen Forrester, freshman Landon Sims and Shemper each made their debuts for the Dawgs. Patrick (1-0) picked up the win with two innings of scoreless relief, while Shemper (1) picked up his first career save, allowing just one of three inherited runners to score in the ninth inning.
It was a good day for the top and bottom of the order, as freshly-minted leadoff hitter junior Rowdey Jordan chipped in two hits, scored two runs and drove in two RBIs. Nine-hole hitter sophomore Landon Jordan chipped in two hits and walked twice to reach base in all four at bats. James chipped in a pair of hits, as well, while Josh Hatcher reached base three times – including a double – and scored two runs.
The quartet of Rowdey Jordan, Jordan Westburg, Tanner Allen and Justin Foscue all extended reached base streaks that span from the 2019 season. Allen reached via walk in the game to move his reached base streak to a career-long 22 games, however his 14-game hitting streak came to an end.
Westburg moved his hitting streak to career-long nine games and his reached base streak to a career-best 21 contests. Rowdey Jordan moved his reached base streak to 10 games and Foscue moved his to six straight games on base.
Sophomore JT Ginn threw three innings in the start, allowing two runs on three hits. He walked two and struck out four in the no decision.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis
On Rowdey Jordan filling the leadoff role
“[Rowdey] was good. He had that big hit, which I thought he had a chance to get it earlier in the game. He’s a gritty player. That [hit] got us going. We had been waiting for that ball all day long. We had some pretty productive innings early and didn’t really take advantage of them, so to be able to get that going was huge.”
On the relief pitching
“For a lot of those guys it was their very first time out there. I thought Jared Shemper coming into that jam and closing it out was huge. He’s going to be a big piece for us. Landon Sims, I don’t know if he’s walked a guy all preseason and then he goes out there and does that. He’s going to go right back out there, though. He’s one of the better pitchers in the country, so we’re excited. I thought Jaxen Forrester was very good and Chase Patrick was good…I thought overall that our group competed.”
Rowdey Jordan led off the inning with a single and moved to third on a Jordan Westburg base hit. Tanner Allen grounded into a double play to push the first run of the season across the plate.
Mississippi State 1, Wright State 0
A Josh Hatcher single with one out was followed by a pair of singles, the second of which came off the bat of Kamren James. It was James’ first-career hit and was misplayed by the left fielder, allowing Hatcher to score.
Mississippi State 2, Wright State 0
There was a lot of traffic on the base paths in the third, as Wright State had runners on first and third with one out. The runner from first stole second base, but MSU erased the runner from third trying to score. After a walk, two balks by JT Ginn pushed a run across the plate, before an RBI triple accounted for the second run of the inning.
Mississippi State 2, Wright State 2
Wright State took the lead with three runs in the fifth against MSU reliever Carlisle Koestler in his second inning of work. Three singles started the inning, before Koestler got a strikeout. Zane Harris then doubled into the right-center field gap to clear the bases.
Wright State 5, Mississippi State 2
Westburg worked a leadoff walk and moved to third on an errant pickoff attempt. Two batters later, Justin Foscue produced the first MSU RBI of 2020 with a groundout.
Wright State 5, Mississippi State 4
Mississippi State retook the lead with its first big inning of 2020, scoring six times against three WSU pitchers. After a leadoff ground out, seven of the next eight batters reached base, with six coming in to score. Hatcher got it started with a double, James singled, and Landon Jordan walked to load the bases. Rowdey Jordan plated two runs with a single and Foscue drove in two more runs with a double. A throwing error by the WSU shortstop allowed the final two runs of the frame to score.
Mississippi State 9, Wright State 5
Wright State loaded the bases with no outs in the inning, as reliever Landon Sims hit a batter and walked two. Jared Shemper entered and got a strikeout and walked in a run before a lineout double play ended the game.
Mississippi State 9, Wright State 6
Mississippi State and Wright State will continue its series at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15. The first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive a 2019 OMADAWGS rally towel.