OMAHA, Neb. — The No. 3 Mississippi State baseball team only scored one run in eight innings, but the Dawgs rallied for four runs in the ninth inning to beat Auburn, 5-4, in walk-off fashion in the opening game of the NCAA College World Series Sunday night at at TD Ameritrade Park.
Auburn (38-27) scored two runs in the second inning before adding one more to its lead in the fourth inning. Mississippi State (52-13) eventually got on the board in the sixth inning. The Tigers added a run in the eighth inning before State rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth to open the CWS in the ‘W’ column.
Starting pitcher Ethan Small struck out the first five batters he faced. Junior Rankin Woley was the first to get on base for the Tigers with a two-out single in the top of the second inning. Sophomore Edouard Julien then followed with a two-run homer to right field.
The Tigers added a run in the fourth inning after back-to-back two-out walks were followed by an RBI single from Julien to give Auburn a 3-0 lead.
The Diamond Dawgs loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth inning when senior Jake Mangum singled, sophomore Jordan Westburg worked a walk and sophomore Tanner Allen singled to first base. However, the threat ended with an out in foul territory.
MSU finally got on the board in the sixth inning to make it a 3-1 ballgame. Sophomore Justin Foscue led off with a single before junior Dustin Skelton worked a walk. Foscue was then out on a fielder’s choice, but Skelton was able move up to second. Junior Gunner Halter’s single through the right side scored Skelton.
The Tigers added an insurance run in the eighth inning. Junior Will Holland was hit by a pitch. He then scored all the way from first on single from sophomore Steven Williams to right-center and an MSU throwing error that put Auburn up 4-1.
The ninth inning rally began with a leadoff double to right field from Mangum. A strikeout would follow before Allen worked a walk to put two runners on. Senior Elijah MacNamee would windup scoring Mangum with a double of his own. A groundout then scored Allen to make it 4-3 in favor of the Tigers. With Auburn leading 4-3 with two outs, Skelton grounded to third, but an overthrow to the first baseman allowed MacNamee to score from second and tie things up at 4-4.
Sophomore Rowdey Jordan was then intentionally walked before sophomore Josh Hatcher singled to load the bases. That’s when senior Marshall Gilbert ripped an RBI single to send the Dawgs off with a 5-4 walk-off win.
As a team, MSU compiled 12 hits, but left 11 runners on base. Mangum, MacNamee and Skelton each chipped in with two-hit performances.
Small wasn’t as effect as usual, throwing five innings where he allowed three runs on three hits to go with three walks and eight strikeouts.
Junior Riley Self then pitched a clean sixth with one strikeout. Senior Jared Liebelt was the next man up and allowed one unearned run in two innings of work. He allowed two hits and fanned one batter. Graduate student Cole Gordon (5-0) earned the win after allowing one hit and striking out three batters.
Sophomore Tanner Burns (4-4) was charged with the Tiger loss after allowing three runs (one earned) on three hits in two-thirds of an inning.
State will now take on Vanderbilt on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT on ESPN.