HOOVER, Ala. — In a game that lasted until 3:03 a.m., and a Southeastern Conference Tournament record six hours and 43 minutes, the fourth-seeded Mississippi State baseball team found a way to win a 6-5, 17-inning battle with No. 5 seed LSU Tigers Wednesday night into Thursday morning at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
Mississippi State’s Gunner Halter delivered a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the 17th inning to walk off with a second-round SEC Tournament win over the Tigers. State will now play top-seeded Vanderbilt Thursday at approximately 8 p.m. CT on SEC Network.
Offensively, MSU outhit the Tigers 18-12, but left 21 runners on base. Sophomore Tanner Allen compiled three hits and an RBI in the win. Sophomore Rowdey Jordan joined him with three hits, while also coming around to score once. Four State hitters turned in two-hit performances, including senior Jake Mangum, junior Dustin Skelton, sophomore Josh Hatcher and freshman Landon Jordan.
MSU (46-11) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Mangum hit a single up the middle. Sophomore Jordan Westburg was then hit by a pitch to put two runners on. Allen then came through with an RBI double to score Mangum before a sacrifice fly from Skelton plated the second run of the inning.
The bottom of the second inning began with a leadoff double from Hatcher. Mangum was then intentionally walked with two outs before Westburg hit an RBI single to give State a 3-0 lead. The Dawgs would add one to their lead in the third inning to take a 4-0 lead. The bases were loaded after sophomore Justin Foscue drew a walk and back-to-back singles from R. Jordan and Hatcher followed. A run was plated when freshman Luke Hancock was hit by a pitch.
The Tigers (35-23) clawed their way back in the fifth inning when they scored two runs on two hits. Sophomore Saul Garza led off with a double to right center. A one-out single from senior Brandt Broussard put runners on the corners before back-to-back walks scored a run. A sacrifice fly from freshman Cade Beloso made it a 4-2 game.
MSU held a 4-2 lead until the eighth inning when LSU’s Giovanni DiGiacomo hit a two-run homer to knot things up and send things to extra innings. It was also his first career home run.
The top of the 16th inning began with LSU’s Antoine Duplantis singling up the middle. After a strikeout, sophomore Daniel Cabrera singled and moved up to second on the throw. An intentional walk loaded the bases before a sacrifice fly from DiGiacomo gave the Tigers a 5-4 lead.
A leadoff single from R. Jordan and a one-out single from L. Jordan got things going for State in the bottom half of the 16th. Rowdey then moved up to third on a flyout. A dropped third strike then allowed Mangum to reach first safely, which also allowed Rowdey to score and tie things up at 5-5.
After a quick 1-2-3 top of the 17th inning, MSU managed a one-out base runner when Foscue reached first on a fielding error. Another Tiger error allowed Foscue to move up to second before R. Jordan was intentionally walked. Halter became the hero when his single up the middle scored Foscue to give MSU the win.
Freshman right-hander Brandon Smith got the start on the mound and tossed a career-high 4 1⁄3 innings. He allowed two runs on five hits and struck out five batters with one walk.
Redshirt-junior Trysten Barlow then threw two-thirds of an inning where he surrendered one walk. Junior Riley Self then allowed just one hit in 1 2⁄3 innings of work. Senior Jared Liebelt came into the game in the seventh inning with one man on and two outs. He surrendered two runs on two hits. Graduate student Cole Gordon then threw a phenomenal five innings. He allowed just one hit, struck out eight and walked four. Junior Jack Eagan then allowed one hit and walked two batters in 1 1⁄3 innings. Redshirt-junior Keegan James (4-1) earned the win after allowing one run on two hits in 2 2⁄3 innings. He struck out one batter and walked two.
Sophomore right-hander Ma’Khail Hilliard was charged with the Tiger loss after limiting MSU to two runs (one earned) on five hits in 4 2⁄3 innings with two walks and eight strikeouts.