Mississippi State ended the 2003 regular season with a 17-12 SEC record (38-16 overall), good enough for the #4 seed in the 8-team SEC Tournament. In the opening round, they faced the 5-seed, ole miss.
Previously in 2003, State swept the series in oxford, but dropped the mid-week Mayor's Trophy game in Jackson.
Rain delayed the typical Wednesday start of the tournament, and action began on Thursday May 22, with State and ole miss taking the field for game three. Stephen Head, typically the closer, started that day for ole miss, and State countered with rebel-beater Paul Maholm.
In three career games against ole miss, the Bulldog ace Paul Maholm had compiled a 3-0 record, but quickly fell behind in the first inning in his final match against his rival.
ole miss scored a run on two hits and took a 1-0 lead after the first inning. State scrapped across the tying run in the second and added the go-ahead in the fifth.
With two outs in the top of seventh, Maholm threw a wild pitch that the tying run to score from third, knotting the game at 2.
In the bottom of the seventh, Matthew Maniscalco led off with a double and scored on Matthew Brinson's RBI single, giving MSU the 3-2 lead.
ole miss had an opportunity in the eighth with the tying run headed to the plate, but Brad Corley made a great throw from right field and Craig Tatum tagged the runner out at the plate.
Maholm got into a jam in the ninth, and Jonathan Papelbon was brought in to close the game. Papelbon got a strikeout, but gave up a 2-out single that tied the game, and then threw a wild pitch that gave ole miss the 4-3 lead.
Bulldog catcher Craig Tatum came through clutch in the final frame and tied the game with an RBI double. State went on to load the bases with 1 out, but JB Tucker grounded into a DP, and the game went into extra innings.
The extra frames went quickly, and after two quick outs in the twelfth, freshman Thomas Berkery came to the plate with no one on base. T-Berk promptly took Brae Wright deep to left, and walked-off with a homerun as MSU won 5-4. Berkery was the only player to hit a homerun on the 4 games played on the first day of the tournament.
Baseball research is difficult, but this is the only MSU/ole miss baseball game I'm aware of that ended with a walk-off homerun, certainly a great moment in the rivalry's history.
State lost to top-seeded LSU the next day, and then eliminated ole miss with our fifth victory over the rebels that season. In the semi-finals, LSU beat Mississippi State again, eliminating us from the double-elimination tournament.