NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For the Mississippi State baseball team, Elijah MacNamee is quickly becoming top banana.
MacNamee hit his second walk-off home run in as many weekends as MSU beat Vanderbilt 10-8 in the opening game of the Nashville Super Regional, played Friday night at Hawkins Field.
MSU (37-25) and Vanderbilt (34-26) resume the best-of-three series with an 8:30 p.m. start Saturday on ESPN. The Bulldogs will need one win over the next two days to return to the College World Series for the first time since 2013.
“It was far from pretty but this is a resilient team,” MSU assistant coach Jake Gautreau said. “Big hit Mac had another great night. Our team did a great job of staying the course. Just keep battling. That is what we have done the entire season.”
The Bulldogs won by walk-off for the sixth time this season. MacNamee hit a three-run walk-off home run to defeat Florida State in the Tallahassee Regional. It was his second home run of the contest and fifth in the NCAA tournament.
The teams combined for 21 hits and seven errors. The Bulldogs surrendered a five-run lead for the first time this season but never trailed in the contest.
The biggest lift on the mound came from Cole Gordon, who threw 3.1 innings of shutout relief. Gordon allowed one hit with three strikeouts and a walk. Riley Self (5-0) threw the ninth inning to pick up the win.
Ethan Small drew the start. Small allowed six hits and four runs (three earned) over four innings of work. JP France followed, before giving way to Gordon.
MSU built a 2-0 lead in the second inning on behind a single, walk and Vanderbilt error.
Vanderbilt took advantage of two MSU errors and two base hits to tie the game in the third inning.
In the home half of the third inning, the Bulldogs scored five to take a 7-2 lead.
Jake Mangum walked and Rowdey Jordan singled to start the frame. Tanner Allen and Hunter Stovall followed with back-to-back RBI-singles. MacNamee then hit a three-run home run.
Vanderbilt came back with five runs in the fifth inning. Three walks and an error helped the Commodore cause. The big blow in the frame was a two-run home run by Pat DeMarco.
Things stayed tied before the Bulldogs scratched for a run in the eighth inning. Luke Alexander reached on an error and was advanced on a sacrifice by Dustin Skelton. A single by Mangum brought the run home.
The Bulldogs then gave the ball to Self who got the first two outs in the ninth inning. A triple and error on the relay brought DeMarco home with the game-tying run.
MSU finished with 11 hits. MacNamee and Stovall each had three hits, while Allen had two hits.
NEXT UP FOR MSU
Now one win away from the College World Series, State will look to punch its ticket to Omaha, Nebraska with a win in game two on Saturday. First pitch is set for 8:30 p.m. CT on ESPN.