STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – The first 19 Texas A&M hitters to come to the plate were retired by redshirt-junior Ethan Small and the Mississippi State baseball program took a no hitter into the eighth inning on its way to a 4-0 victory in the series opener on Friday afternoon at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
Small was rolling from the first pitch, as he struck out the side in the first inning. A huge defensive play by sophomore Justin Foscue kept the perfect game in tact in the seventh inning, as he made a sliding play on a ball and threw the runner out at first to being the frame.
Small hit the next batter and followed that with a walk, but got a flyout and a strikeout complete the inning. In all, Small faced 23 batters in his seven hitless innings. He struck out eight, got nine flyball outs and coaxed four ground-ball outs.
The left hander gave way to senior Jared Liebelt in the eighth, as Liebelt retired the first two batters, before Ty Coleman dumped a ball into center field that Jake Mangum nearly made a diving catch on. Liebelt threw the final two innings scoreless, allowing just the one hit.
The one hit allowed is the fewest since allowing one hit to Akron on February 18, 2011 and the shutout is the first on the road since winning by an identical score at Auburn on May 13, 2016. It is the third shutout of the season for the Diamond Dawgs.
The offense was provided by a familiar lineup, as sophomore Rowdey Jordan opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly to center field in the fourth inning and junior Dustin Skelton followed with an RBI single. Foscue plated the final two runs of the game with a one-out, two-RBI single with the bases loaded in the eighth inning.
Foscue delivered two hits on the night and scored a run to go along with his two RBIs. Senior Jake Mangum, who also made a spectacular catch to start the fourth inning, chipped in a pair of hits for his 103rd career multi-hit game.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis
On Ethan Small’s outing
“I thought he was better than normal today. I thought his velocity was better and he had great command early on. He worked both sides of the plate and just dominated.”
Redshirt-junior Ethan Small
On how he felt to start the game
“It felt pretty good. In the bullpen it kind of felt like the ball was coming out of my hand a little more live than normal. I probably have the heat to thank for that, I was a little bit looser. The big thing for me was I kind of felt like I have all three [pitches] working coming out of the bullpen. Sticking with the fastball early has been working for me and then going [to my other pitches] when I see they are taking good swings at [my fastball].”
Ethan Small – Carried a perfect game into the seventh inning and ended the night with seven hitless innings of work. Walked one and hit one batter. Moved into the top-10 on the single season and career strikeout charts with eight strikeouts
Rowdey Jordan – Plated the eventual game-winning run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning.
Dustin Skelton – Drove in one run with an RBI single.
Justin Foscue – Delivered a sparking defensive play to keep the then-no hitter in tact in the seventh inning. Delivered a two-hit night, including the two-RBI single with two outs in the eighth to stretch the MSU lead.
The Reached Base Club – Rowdey Jordan and Jordan Westburg each moved their reached base streaks to 14 games on Friday.
Pitching Shines – Ethan Small and Jared Liebelt combined to hold Texas A&M to just one hit in the shutout. The shutout is the first on the road since 2016 at Auburn (4-0) and the first one-hitter since 2011 versus Akron.
John Doxakis – Allowed all four runs – three earned – on four hits in 7 1/3 innings. Walked two ans struck out four.
Ty Coleman – Collected the lone hit in the game for the Aggies.
Elijah MacNamee started the inning getting plunked by John Doxakis and Justin Foscue followed with a double down the left-field line. Rowdey Jordan then hit a fly ball to center field to put MSU on the scoreboard. Dustin Skelton then doubled down the left-field line to score Foscue and give MSU a two-run lead.
Mississippi State 2, Texas A&M 0
Jake Mangum started the inning with a single, before Jordan Westburg reached on an error by the shortstop. After a Tanner Allen sacrifice bunt, MacNamee was intentionally walked, before Justin Foscue singled through the left side of the infield to plate two runs and move MSU’s lead to four runs.
Mississippi State 4, Texas A&M 0
Mississippi State and Texas A&M will start a doubleheader at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 4. The opening game of the series will air live on the SEC Network with Clay Matvick and Chris Burke on the call. The second game of the day will start 45 minutes following game one and air on SEC Network+. Each game will be seven innings and both will air on the Mississippi State Radio Network.