So before football season gets cranked up, I would like to go back to the best moments, games, and achievements of the 2015-16 Athletic year. While there is no order or ranking, this is more or less a compilation of the greatest moments I saw in person. And the very first thing that comes to my mind maybe a bit of a wild card for some fans, but for me it was one of the greatest moments I have ever seen.
Enter Mississippi State, coming off a very lengthy extra inning game against UL Monroe in Biloxi, the Bulldogs had to quickly regroup as they were about to travel to one of the most hostile environments in any sport, Alex Box Stadium. The Bulldogs had not won a series against LSU since 2006. And while it looked like the best chance for Mississippi State to get that much coveted series win, every logical idea is thrown out the door when you are playing LSU at their own place. The Bulldogs started Friday night with a bang as Nathaniel Lowe hit an incredible grand slam to give the bulldogs the confidence they needed to win game 1 in Baton Rouge. This was probably one of my favorite games of the season but alas I was at the Saturday game.
Game 2 was exciting in its own way. Alex Box was full and the pregame scene was full of tailgating and trailers. It was like a mini SEC football Saturday in a way. The LSU fans were friendly. Complementing Mississippi State and also talking up LSU baseball. It was quite surprising to not have the stereotypical tiger bait fan as Ive had far worse experiences at Davis Wade with LSU fans then I did at Alex Box Stadium. But unlike most SEC Baseball stadiums, they knew baseball, and they were going to yell to create a hostile environment.
So in the 1st inning, Jack Kruger hits a solo home run. The crowd is silent and cannot believe what is happening since this is the weekend they are honoring Skip Bertman, who is there with his 1997 CWS National Championship team. The first 5 innings went by in an hour, which is unheard of in today's college baseball. And in the top of the 6th, Reid Humphreys is able to get a sac RBI to score Jake Mangum and give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.
The LSU fans were silent until the bottom of the eight inning when LSU put Austin Sexton into trouble and caused MSU to go to the bullpen to the left hander Daniel Brown. I am sitting next to the MSU bullpen. At LSU they put the 2 bullpens on each side of the foul ball lines. In this day in age in college baseball, I figured they would have a nice covered outfield Bullpen similar to Omaha or Hoover. But all of a sudden I hear "TIGER BAIT, TIGER BAIT, TIGER BAIT" It made perfect sense, LSU designed the bullpens to create an even more hostile stadium than usual. This is pure genius and something MSU may want to consider... But this just adds to the excitement as a run scores in the bottom of the eighth to cut the MSU lead to one. Mississippi State goes down in order in the top of the ninth so now is time for an epic bottom of the ninth inning.
Every MSU fan knew this was Mississippi States only chance to break the 9 year losing streak to LSU. MSU just wasn't going to win on Sundays for some reason so it was up to a monumental defensive effort to make it happen. With one out Kramer Robertson hits a double, and the crowd is going nuts. Again MSU heads for the bullpen to Reid Humphreys. And he is welcomed by the Tiger fans with "TIGER BAIT, TIGER BAIT, TIGER BAIT". Reid gets an out but Robertson advances to third.. Everyone in the stadium knows that this is it. If Humphreys gets the out, then MSU wins. If Robertson scores, then it goes to extra innings which MSU does not have the pitching to sustain. Humphreys gets the out and the stadium is silent except for a few State fans who made the journey like myself.
Just how do teams win in Alex Box Stadium? The answer is not many teams do and the ones that do often have the best seasons. The next team to win at Alex Box Stadium after the 2016 SEC Champions, Mississippi State, was the 2016 National Champions, Coastal Carolina. That is some elite company, and it was a proud day to be a bulldog as it always is!