STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - The fireworks came a day early for the Dudy Noble Field faithful, as the No. 5 Mississippi State baseball team hit four home runs en route to a 24-7 victory over South Carolina in the series opener on Thursday evening.
The 24 runs are the tenth most in a Southeastern Conference game for Mississippi State (44-10, 19-9 SEC) and the most runs in a conference contest since plating 25 runs at Vanderbilt on April 6, 1997. Adding to the 20-run note is the 2019 season marks the second time in program history that the Diamond Dawgs scored 20-plus runs twice in the same season, also doing so during the 1997 campaign.
With its 19th SEC victory of the season, MSU moves into a tie with the 1999 squad for the third-most conference wins in a single season. The 1989 squad won 20 games in conference play, while the 2016 team posted 21 wins on its way to an SEC regular season title.
Mississippi State continues to rack up the doubles, posting four in the series opener with South Carolina (27-26, 7-21 SEC). One of those came off the bat of sophomore Justin Foscue to mark his 20th double of the season, joining senior Jake Mangum (20) in the 20-doubles club. That marks the first set of MSU teammates with 20-plus doubles since 1998 when Brian Wiese (24) and Richard Lee (20) accomplished the feat.
Sophomore Tanner Allen was the leader at the plate with a 5-for-5 effort and a walk. Allen scored four runs and drove in three RBIs. Sophomore Rowdey Jordan and freshman Landon Jordan each chipped in three hits, with Rowdey driving in three RBIs and Landon accounting for two runs batted in and smacking his first-career home run. Freshman Brad Cumbest hit his first career home run and drove in three RBIs on the night, as well.
In all, 11 different Diamond Dawgs collected hits, 12 scored at least one run and 10 drive in at least one RBI in the game. Foscue, senior Marshall Gilbert and sophomore Josh Hatcher joined Allen, Rowdey Jordan and Landon Jordan with multi-hit efforts.
On the mound, five different Bulldogs combined to strike out 13 South Carolina hitters to move the team’s season total to 582, which is tied for No. 4 on the single-season charts with the 1999 team.
Redshirt-junior Ethan Small (8-1) earned the win with five innings of three-hit, two-run work. He walked three and struck out seven to move his season total to 139 and pass Jeff Brantley (136; 1985) for No. 5 on the single-season strikeouts list.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis
On the offense
“It was close early on. I thought we had some good at-bats early, we just didn’t have a lot to show for it. Being able to separate that game was huge. [South Carolina] is down some arms over there, so it gets to a point in the game where you decide, ‘Are we going to pitch for today or for tomorrow?’ I think that’s a little bit of what happened, so we were able to get going. We had some great at-bats. Tanner Allen had an unbelievable night. Some of the home runs, I thought [Dustin] Skelton’s home run [just put us at], ‘Alright, the game’s over at this point.’ It was nice to see some of the young guys come off the bench and get some swings in.”
Multi Madness – Six Diamond Dawgs produced multi-hit games, seven scored multiple runs and seven drove in multiple RBIs in the contest.
20-plus Runs – Mississippi State scored 20-plus runs in an SEC game for the second time in 2019, marking just the second time in program history it has scored 20-or-more runs in multiple conference games.
Tanner Allen – Though many of the Bulldogs had great nights, Allen posted a career-high five hits in five at bats and reached base a sixth time via walk. He scored four runs and drove in three RBIs.
Ethan Small – Won his seventh SEC start in 10 tries with five innings of two-run, three-hit work in a start. Struck out seven to move into No. 3 on the career strikeouts charts (281) and No. 5 on the single-season list (139).
Andrew Eyster – Went 3-for-3 with a run scored and two RBIs. Had two doubles in the game, driving in each of the first two South Carolina runs.
Back-to-back doubles from TJ Hopkins and Andrew Eyster opened the scoring against Ethan Small, who recorded all three outs via strikeout in the opening frame.
South Carolina 1, Mississippi State 0
A two out walk by Hopkins was followed by a stolen base to put a runner in scoring position for Eyster, who doubled to score the second run of the game for South Carolina.
South Carolina 2, Mississippi State 0
The first five Diamond Dawgs reached base, as Josh Hatcher opened the inning reaching on an error. Marshall Gilbert’s infield single was followed by a hit-by-pitch from Jake Mangum to load the bases with no outs. Jordan Westburg and Tanner Allen worked bases loaded walks to plate the first two runs of the frame. Justin Foscue grounded into a double play to push Mangum across and give MSU the lead. After a walk to Dustin Skelton put runners on first and second, Rowdey Jordan’s line drive was dropped by the second baseman, allowing Westburg to score from second.
Mississippi State 4, South Carolina 2
Hatcher led off the inning with his first home run of the season, before a strikeout accounted for the first out of the night. Mangum singled and moved to second on a wild pitch, before Westburg delivered an RBI single. Allen followed with a base hit and Foscue roped a double into left field to score a run. With two outs, Rowdey Jordan singled through the infield to plate a pair of runs.
Mississippi State 9, South Carolina 2
The first seven hitter reached base and scored, with five hits, a fielder’s choice and a hit-by-pitch leading to a seven-run inning. Hatcher and Gilbert singled, moving to second and third on a wild pitch. Mangum grounded into a fielder’s choice to score the first run of the inning, before Westburg was hit by a pitch. Allen followed with a two-RBI single before Foscue’s infield base hit loaded the bases. Skelton followed with his second grand slam of the season to left-center field.
Mississippi State 16, South Carolina 2
Three singles loaded the bases with one out, before a ground out by Brady Allen scored the lone run of the frame against MSU reliever Riley Self.
Mississippi State 16, South Carolina 3
Landon Jordan led off the inning with his first-career home run. Mangum reached on an error by the second baseman, before a double from Allen moved him to third. Gunner Halter then plated the second run of the inning with a sacrifice fly.
Mississippi State 18, South Carolina 3
Rowdey Jordan started the inning with a single, before a two-out single from Landon Jordan pushed the lone run of the inning across.
Mississippi State 19, South Carolina 3
Back-to-back doubles started the inning with Halter scoring Allen. Rowdey Jordan plated the next run with a single to left field, before Luke Hancock was hit by a pitch. Brad Cumbest followed with his first-career home run to straight-away center field to account for the final three runs of the frame.
Mississippi State 24, South Carolina 3
Bryce Brock came on to throw for MSU and allowed four runs on six hits. He walked one batter and struck out three. Five of his six hits allowed were singles.
Mississippi State 24, South Carolina 7
Mississippi State will honor its seniors on Friday, May 17 prior to the 6:30 p.m. first pitch at Dudy Noble Field. The second game in the series will also be the final Friday Night Fireworks, presented by Marathon Petroleum.