NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WCBI/MSU Athletics) – Attention Omaha: The Bulldogs are coming back.
Continuing one of the most inspirational runs in program history, Mississippi State baseball closed out the Nashville Super Regional with a 10-6, 11-inning win over Vanderbilt late Sunday night at Hawkins Field.
MSU will return to Omaha, Nebraska, and the College World Series for the 10th time in program history and first time since 2013. The Bulldogs won a super regional for third time in program history and won both a regional and super regional on the road for a first time.
MSU (37-27) will face Washington (35-24) In a first-round game Saturday at TD Ameritrade Park.
To achieve Omaha, the Bulldogs won five straight elimination games in the regional and super regional combined.
“It just is an incredible group of kids,” MSU head coach Gary Henderson said. “It is the most resilient group I have been around as a coach. This is special. We have the best fans in the nation. They traveled and made this feel like a home game. Can’t say enough about how proud I am of this team and how proud I am to be their coach.”
MSU seemed to be in control after scoring three times in the top of the ninth inning for a 6-3 lead. Vanderbilt (35-27) made sure the home team had a big ninth inning for a third straight game. A solo home run and two-run home run tied the game and things kept going.
In the MSU 11th inning, pinch-hitter Josh Hatcher drew a leadoff walk. After a strikeout, Rowdey Jordan singled. Tanner Allen then drove in the go-ahead run with a double down the right field line.
After an intentional walk, Justin Foscue drew a bases-loaded walk to bring home a run. Luke Alexander followed with a two-run single.
Denver McQuary (2-2) entered in the 10th inning and got a critical strikeout with two runners on base. In the 11th, McQuary walked the leadoff man and gave way to Keegan James. James got three straight ground ball outs, with the final one leading to a dog pile right next to the first base bag.
MSU built a 2-0 lead in the third inning on sacrifice fly by Rowdey Jordan and single by Hunter Stovall.
Vanderbilt (35-27) responded with a solo home run in the third inning and two runs on only one base hit in the fourth inning.
It was the first time the Bulldogs trailed during a game in the super regional, with the other deficit being after a walk-off home run Saturday night.
In the sixth inning, the Bulldogs tied things on a hit batsman, walk, sacrifice bunt and wild pitch.
Things stayed tight until Jake Mangum put the Maroon and White on top with an RBI-double down the right field line with one out in the ninth inning. Jordan followed with a sacrifice fly, before Mangum came home on a wild pitch.
MSU finished with 12 hits, including a three-hit night by Jordan. Mangum, Stovall and Jordan Westburg each added two hits.
Mangum also had a critical outfield assist to snuff another Vanderbilt scoring threat.
Jacob Billingsley drew the start for the Bulldogs, before being lifted with two outs in the fourth inning. The key appearance out of the bullpen came from Cole Gordon, who allowed two hits and no runs with seven strikeouts in 3.2 innings of relief work.
Vanderbilt collected 11 hits but stranded 17 base runners. JJ Bleday, Stephen Scott and Harrison Ray each had multiple hits for the Commodores.
NEXT UP FOR MSU
The Diamond Dawgs will return to Starkville before departing for the College World Series and Omaha, Nebraska. State will face off against Washington, who outlasted Cal State Fullerton in 10 innings Sunday.