STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - It was not easy, but the No. 5 Mississippi State baseball program continued its midweek streak with their 11th-straight midweek win, 7-5, over South Alabama on Wednesday evening at Dudy Noble Field.
USA (14-18) struck first with a run in the opening frame, before MSU (28-6) knotted the score with a second-inning run and took the lead with three runs in the third inning. A two-run home run for the Jaguars pulled it back within one run in the fifth, 4-3. State added three runs in the seventh, before USA capped the scoring with two runs in the eighth.
Graduate student Cole Gordon entered in the eighth inning and struck out four batters, while allowing one hit and one walk to earn his eighth save of the season. Junior Jack Eagan got the start and allowed one run on two hits in 2 2/3 innings. Eagan struck out four before handing off to freshman Brandon Smith (2-0) with two runners on and two outs in the third.
Smith threw 2 1/3 innings to earn the victory in relief, eventually giving way to junior Riley Self, who fired two innings and allowed two runs on four hits.
The offense saw eight of nine batters collect hits, with sophomore Justin Foscue chipping in a pair of hits and sophomore Tanner Allen ending the night with three hits. Allen did most of the damage offensively, driving in five RBI and hitting his sixth home run of the season.
Foscue drove in one run with his 10th home run of the year, a solo shot in the second inning, while sophomore Jordan Westburg added a third-inning RBI to his tally. Westburg was on base three times, posting a double and two walks in the contest. Junior Dustin Skelton reached base twice, collecting a hit and a hit-by-pitch, to move his reached base streak to 18 games.
Senior Jake Mangum moved into a tie for No. 2 on Mississippi State's all-time doubles chart with his 66th two-bagger. His seventh-inning double moved him into a tie with Richard Lee (66; 1995-98) and also moved his hitting streak to 14-straight games.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis
On his team's ability to win a tight game
"They were on some balls pretty well early. I thought we hit some balls hard at them, too. I thought some of our guys, [like] Gunner Halter, Rowdey [Jordan], [Justin Foscue] had some hard outs, but the home run by Tanner Allen, I thought, really was a big part of the game. The ballpark was playing pretty offensive tonight also, so early in the game and early in [batting practice], we saw that and we were able to drive some balls. I think [Justin Foscue] hit a hanging breaking ball and then Tanner's big swing. That may have been one of the farther balls I've seen in the ballpark, just in this small amount of time."
Sophomore Tanner Allen
On how his coaches and teammates helped him through his slump
"When you have teammates and a coaching staff that believes in you and is behind you every single day and pulling for you...You stress out as a baseball player. You're struggling [and you're thinking,] man, I want to hit five home runs in one swing, but you can't. When you have a coaching staff behind you and teammates behind you, it really helps a lot and it made a big difference."
Lineup Heating Up – Eight of the nine MSU starters collected a hit in the game, while five Diamond Dawgs reached base multiple times in the contest.
Justin Foscue – Hit his 10th home run of the season to become the first Diamond Dawgs since Brent Rooker (23) in 2017 to reach double-digits in home runs. Moved his reached base streak to 14 games with the home run.
Tanner Allen – Posted his 11th multi-hit game of the season and eighth multi-RBI game of the year. Drove in five RBIs on a 3-for-4 night at the plate.
Jake Mangum – Moved his hitting streak to 14 games with his 66th career double, to move him a tie for No. 2 on the MSU career doubles charts with Richard Lee (1995-98).
Jordan Westburg – Reached base three times and scored a pair of runs. Doubled for his lone hit of the game and walked twice.
Dustin Skelton – Moved his reached base streak to 18 games with a 1-for-3 night at the plate. Also walked once.
Ethan Wilson – Went 2-for-5 with a double and a home run. Drove in two RBIs and scored two runs.
Michael Sandle – Posted three hits.
Wells Davis – Hit a home run for his lone hit, driving in two RBIs.
The Jaguars loaded the bases with one out thanks to a double, hit-by-pitch, sacrifice bunt and a walk. After MSU starting pitcher Jack Eagan got a pop-out to shortstop, a wild pitch allowed a run to score, before Eagan struck out the final batter of the frame.
South Alabama 1, Mississippi State 0
Justin Foscue knotted the score with this 10th home run of the season to left field.
Mississippi State 1, South Alabama 1
The first four batters of the inning reached, with Gunner Halter's single followed by a Jake Mangum walk. Jordan Westburg followed with a double to score Halter and Tanner Allen's single scored two more.
Mississippi State 4, South Alabama 1
A leadoff single from Dakota Daily was followed by a two-run home run from Ethan Wilson against MSU reliever Brandon Smith.
Mississippi State 4, South Alabama 3
After a lineout started the inning, Mangum doubled and Westburg walked, before Allen hit his sixth home run of the season to straight-away centerfield.
Mississippi State 7, South Alabama 3
In his third inning of work, MSU reliever Riley Self surrendered a leadoff single, before Wells Davis hit a home run to right field to make it a two-run game.
Mississippi State 7, South Alabama 5
Mississippi State will welcome Alabama for a three-game series on Super Bulldog Weekend, beginning with a 6:30 p.m. first pitch on Friday, April 12. The two teams will play single games on Saturday, April 13 and Sunday, April 14, with both games starting at 3 p.m. The Sunday contest will air on the SEC Network.