After a rough trip to Hoover and the SEC Tournament, Mississippi State was searching for some momentum as the NCAA Tournament began. The Bulldogs found some and used it for a 9-5 game one victory over Southeast Missouri State in the Starkville regional.
Amidst some speculation entering the game as to who would start on the bump for the Bulldogs, Dakota Hudson got the nod. After mowing through Missouri, Auburn, and Arkansas, Hudson struggled against LSU in Hoover. Those struggles continued today. In 3 1/3 innings, Hudson gave up four hits, four runs, walked four, and struck out just two.
Hudson was relieved in the 4th by Ryan Rigby, who had a decent performance. In 2 1/3, he gave up three hits, one run, and struck out two. Daniel Brown came in for Rigby in the 6th, who had a rock solid outing. In 3 1/3, Brown gave up no hits, no runs, and struck out four. He received the win in this one, improving his record to 4-2.
Mississippi State faced one of the best starting pitchers in this regional, and arguably in the country in SEMO's Joey Lucchesi. What the Bulldogs did at the plate against him was nothing short of spectacular. In the 5 1/3 in which Lucchesi pitched, State tacked on ten hits and seven runs. Overall, MSU plated nine runs from fourteen hits and stranded seven.
Without a doubt, the best individual day at the plate belonged to Brent Rooker. Rooker went 2-4, the two hits being home runs that brought in four runs. Nine of State's fourteen hits came from the 1-5 in the lineup (Jake Mangum, Jack Kruger, Nate Lowe, Gavin Collins, Brent Rooker).
As mentioned earlier, State had to rally in order to pull this game out. MSU found itself behind early, a 2-0 deficit in the 2nd inning. We were able to pull ourselves to one with a Brent Rooker solo shot in the 2nd, but SEMO responded with two runs of their own in the top of the 3rd. But, MSU responded. Three runs were plated in the 3rd, thanks to a Brent Rooker three run shot to center, which brought in Gavin Collins, Nate Lowe, and himself, which tied the game at 4. SEMO was able to get the lead back in the 6th with an RBI single, but that would be it for the Redhawks.
In the 6th, Mississippi State plated three runs to take a 7-5 lead. It started with Jacob Robson's reaching on an error from a bunt and a Ried Humphreys single that sent Robson to 3rd. That was followed up by a Ryan Gridley RBI single that scored Robson, an RBI fielder's choice from Hunter Stovall that scored Humphreys, and with the bases loaded, Hunter Stovall scored from a wild pitch that gave State a 7-5 lead.
The Bulldogs tacked on two more runs in the 8th from an inside the park home run (!!!!!!!) from Jack Kruger that also scored Jake Mangum. Daniel Brown sealed the deal with a 1-2-3 9th that gave Mississippi State a 9-5 victory.
This game was a pretty stressful, back and forth battle that thank the lord in heaven we won. Mississippi State improves to 42-16-1 and will play the winner of the Cal State Fullerton-Louisiana Tech game at 6:30 PM, Saturday on ESPN3.