STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – For the 22nd time in 2019, the No. 5 Mississippi State baseball team came from behind to win a game, scoring 11 unanswered runs over the final five innings to earn an 11-2 victory over South Carolina on Friday night at Dudy Noble Field.
The victory, coupled with an Arkansas loss on Friday, moved the Diamond Dawgs into a tie for the Southeastern Conference West Division lead with the Razorbacks. With an MSU win and an Arkansas loss, Mississippi State would win the division outright, if both teams post the same result, Arkansas would hold the tiebreaker for the No. 2 seed at the SEC Tournament.
The story of the night was left-handed hitting sophomores. Josh Hatcher and Tanner Allen drove in seven of Mississippi State’s (45-10, 20-9 SEC) 11 runs. Hatcher hit home runs in back-to-back innings and totaled four RBIs on the night, while Allen produced four hits and drove in three RBIs on a pair of extra-base hits – a double and triple.
Freshman JT Ginn threw six innings against South Carolina (27-27, 7-22 SEC) in the start and allowed two runs on three hits. He struck out eight batters, before handing off to junior Colby White (3-1) in the seventh inning. White worked a scoreless frame with two strikeouts and one walk to earn the win, as the Diamond Dawgs would rally to break a 2-2 tie with four runs in the bottom of the inning.
With the win, head coach Chris Lemonis became the winningest first-year head coach in Southeastern Conference history, guiding MSU to its 45th victory of the season. Lemonis passed LSU’s Smoke Laval for the top spot on the list, as Laval won 44 games during the 2002 season, his first in Baton Rouge.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis
On Josh Hatcher’s emergence
“I think him and Coach Gautreau a couple of weeks ago made some small adjustments. He’s just maturing as a player. We talked about in the clubhouse afterwards; we go to Texas A&M and they throw all of the lefty’s, so he doesn’t play a lot. Lefty’s at Ole Miss, too. He’s been in and out of the lineup. Different than maybe a younger player, he’s just working and getting better. Elijah [MacNamee] gets hurt and he just steps up and his ready to go. When you’re seeing him, he’s a really good player he’s just behind Tanner Allen and Elijah MacNamee. It’s a tough spot to be in sometimes. He’s an important piece. He’s had stretches in our season where he’s been a big player for us.”
Coming Back – Mississippi State posted its 22nd come from behind win of the season and second of the weekend, rallying from a 2-0 deficit to claim the win.
Top Dawg – Head coach Chris Lemonis guided the Diamond Dawgs to their 45th win of the season, making him the winningest first-year head coach in the SEC, passing LSU’s Smoke Laval (44; 2002).
Josh Hatcher – Hit two home runs and drove in four RBIs. It was his second-career multi-home run game, also doing so against UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 23, 2018.
Tanner Allen – Drove in three RBIs on four hits, including a double and a triple.
JT Ginn – Threw six innings in a no decision and struck out eight. Allowed two runs on three hits and walked two.
Luke Berryhill – Posted two of South Carolina’s five hits.
South Carolina scored two runs on one hit, working a pair of walks and benefitting from a pair of wild pitchers from MSU starting pitcher JT Ginn. Chris Cullen started the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Jonah Beamon, who reached first when the throw to second wasn’t in time. A flyout followed, before a walk loaded the bases for the first time. A wild pitch allowed Cullen to score, before another walk loaded the bases. A second wild pitch followed to score the second run of the inning. Ginn got a strikeout and groundout to end the frame.
South Carolina 2, Mississippi State 0
Mississippi State knotted the score at two with a pair of runs in the fourth on three hits. Singles from Tanner Allen and Justin Foscue started things, before Allen was erased at third on a bunt by Dustin Skelton. Rowdey Jordan singled through the right side to score the first run of the inning, moving Skelton from first to third. Josh Hatcher followed with an RBI ground out to tie the game.
Mississippi State 2, South Carolina 2
Hatcher hit his second home run in as many games to lead off the seventh inning and give MSU the lead. Landon Jordan and Marshall Gilbert each reached via error, the second scoring Landon Jordan from third, after he stole second and advanced to third on a third Gamecock error in the frame. Jordan Westburg singled to drive in Gilbert, before Allen’s double to left-center field scored Westburg from first.
Mississippi State 6, South Carolina 2
After a walk to Rowdey Jordan started the inning, Hatcher followed with his third home run of the weekend – a two-run shot – and second of the weekend to straight-away center field. A pair of walks and a pair of outs followed, before Allen tripled to right-center field to push a pair of runs across. Foscue double down the right-field line to score the fifth run of the inning.
Mississippi State 11, South Carolina 2
Mississippi State will host South Carolina in the regular season finale Saturday at 1 p.m. at Dudy Noble Field.