STARKVILLE, Miss. (MSU Athletics) – In front of the third-largest on-campus crowd to every watch an NCAA Super Regional game, the No. 5 Mississippi State baseball program piled up six early runs and got another brilliant start from redshirt-junior Ethan Small on the mound in a 6-2 victory over No. 3 Stanford to open the NCAA Starkville Super Regional on Saturday (June 8) at Dudy Noble Field.
The crowd of 13,132 – the 12th largest crowd overall in MSU history – saw Stanford (45-13) load the bases with one out in the first inning but scored just one, largely thanks to senior Jake Mangum’s grand slam home run robbing catch for the second out. Mississippi State (50-13) then scored one in the second, two in the third and three in the fourth to build a 6-1 lead. The Cardinal added one run in the eighth inning to account for the final margin.
The Diamond Dawgs posted the 50th win of the season and just the fifth 50-win campaign in program history. It is the first time since 2013 that MSU reached the 50-win mark and is tied with the 1990 and 1985 squads for No. 3 in program history.
Small (10-2) threw a career-high 116 pitches in six innings of work to earn his 10th victory of the season. He allowed five hits – all singles – and walked two. He piled up eight strikeouts to move his season total to 168 and push him into the No. 6 spot on the Southeastern Conference’s single-season strikeout list. He moved past Georgia’s Dave Flemming (163; 1990), Auburn’s Tim Hudson (165; 1997) and Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer (167; 2015).
Small is the first 10-game winner for MSU since Ross Mitchell (13) reached double-digits in the win column during the 2013 season.
It was a barrage of extra base hits that helped MSU rally from a deficit to win for the 26th time this season and third in the NCAA postseason. The Diamond Dawgs piled up five more doubles to move its season total to 159 and atop the MSU single-season charts.
Junior Dustin Skelton had a pair of two-base hits, a one-out, second-inning double that enabled him to score the first run of the game and a two-RBI double in the third inning to push MSU into the lead. The sophomore trio of Tanner Allen, Josh Hatcher and Jordan Westburg all chipped in two hits, as well. Allen, Hatcher, senior Elijah MacNamee and Westburg all plated one RBI, while Skelton totaled two on the night.
Westburg doubled for one of his two hits, moving his season total to 20 and give Mississippi State four student-athletes with 20-plus doubles this season. It marks the first time in program history that four Diamond Dawgs have reached the 20-doubles plateau. Previously, only the 1985 team had three reach the mark, as Will Clark, Gator Thiesen and Dan Van Cleve all posted 20-plus doubles.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis
On Ethan Small
“Great start by Ethan [Small]. I just think in that atmosphere, that environment, a really good team in the other dugout, to get a quality start from your starting pitcher is huge especially managing the first inning. The first inning got a little crazy. Jake Mangum makes a great catch, but Ethan just keeps pounding the zone. Then, he settled in and had a really good day.”
Redshirt-junior Ethan Small
On leaving the mound at Dudy Noble Field for the last time
“I cannot explain it. I do not know if I had any ideas in my head. I was kind of embracing it, looked up at the crowd and just listened to it one last time. It was just a really special moment…I have been here for so long and pitched so many times in front of that crowd and that atmosphere. It just does not seem real that it is over.”
50 Dubs – Mississippi State posted its 50th win of the season to mark just the fifth time in program history the Diamond Dawgs reached the 50-win plateau.
Ethan Small – Struck out eight to become the first MSU 10-game winner since 2013 and move into No. 6 on the SEC’s single-season strikeouts list. Threw six innings and allowed five singles and one unearned run to improve to 10-2 on the year.
Doubles Day – MSU posted five doubles to move atop the program’s single-season doubles chart at 159. The Diamond Dawgs also saw the fourth student-athlete reach the 20-doubles mark for the season, as Jordan Westburg joined Tanner Allen, Justin Foscue and Jake Mangum to mark the first MSU quartet to reach the mark in the same season.
Cody Jensen – Struck out five batters in 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Allowed just two hits and didn’t walk a batter.
Two-Hit Nights – Maverick Handley, Tim Tawa and Christian Robinson all chipped in two-hit efforts in the series opener.
After striking out the first batter of the inning, MSU starting pitcher Ethan Small worked into some trouble with a hit, a fielding error and a walk loading the bases with one out. Center fielder Jake Mangum robbed a home run from Andrew Daschbach, but it produced the first run of the game via sacrifice fly. Small got a groundball out to end the inning.
Stanford 1, Mississippi State 0
Dustin Skelton doubled down the right-field line with one out, before Josh Hatcher’s two-out single to left-center field tied the game.
Mississippi State 1, Stanford 1
Skelton doubled again in the third, this time driving in a pair of runs with two outs. Jordan Westburg led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a flyout to center field by Elijah MacNamee. With two outs, Justin Foscue was intentionally walked and Skelton doubled into the right-center field gap to score both runners.
Mississippi State 3, Stanford 1
The Diamond Dawgs chased Stanford starting pitcher Brendan Beck after a leadoff double by Hatcher and a walk to Marshall Gilbert. After a Mangum ground out moved both runners into scoring position, Westburg reached on an error, scoring the first run. Tanner Allen singled to plate the second run of the inning, moving Westburg to third. A ground out by MacNamee pushed the final run of the frame across.
Mississippi State 6, Stanford 1
Stanford got one run back but needed three hits to scratch the run across. Duke Kinamon got things started with a one-out single and Tim Tawa followed with a base hit to put runners on the corners with one out. After a strikeout, Christian Robinson singled up the middle to score the run.
Mississippi State 6, Stanford 2
Mississippi State and Stanford will meet at 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 9 at Dudy Noble Field, with the game airing on ESPNU. The Diamond Dawgs are just one win away from clinching a trip to Omaha, Nebraska and the 2019 College World Series.