STARKVILLE, Miss. — No. 5 Mississippi State baseball swept its way through the Starkville Region with a 5-2 win over No. 20 Miami Sunday night and will now host either Stanford or Fresno State in a best-of-three Super Regional series this weekend at Dudy Noble Field.
MSU (49-13) was held without a hit through three innings of play, as Miami’s starting pitcher Slade Cecconi struck out five batters in three perfect innings. The Hurricanes (41-20) would take a 1-0 lead in the second inning when sophomore Raymond Gil crushed a solo home run to center field.
Senior Jake Mangum, who hadn’t gotten a hit in his last 17 at-bats, was MSU’s first base runner when he led off the top of the fourth with a single. Sophomore Jordan Westburg then followed with a double to put two runners in scoring position. A single from sophomore Tanner Allen scored Mangum to tie things up at 1-1. A sacrifice fly from sophomore Justin Foscue plated Westburg before junior Dustin Skelton’s single up the middle scored Allen and gave the Dawgs a 3-1 lead.
State would be held scoreless the next three innings. The Hurricanes added a run in bottom of the sixth inning to come within a single run at 3-2. A pair of singles from sophomore Gabe Rivera and freshman Jordan Lala began the inning, which ended starting pitcher Peyton Plumlee’s night. A walk then loaded the bases before an RBI groundout from sophomore Freddy Zamora made it a one-run game.
MSU added two runs in the eighth inning to take a 5-2 lead. Senior Marshall Gilbert worked a walk to open the inning. Mangum then doubled to center, giving the Dawgs runners on second and third with no outs. One pitch later, Westburg hit a two-run single to center field that gave MSU the 5-2 game-ending lead.
Mangum and Westburg were responsible for three hits and two hits, respectively, of MSU’s eight total hits. Westburg was also responsible for a team-high two RBIs.
Overall, Plumlee (6-4) was solid in five innings of work, allowing two runs on five hits and striking out three batters.
Redshirt-junior Trysten Barlow allowed one of Plumlee’s runners to score, but he got out of the sixth inning with just one base runner reaching via walk. Junior Colby White then struck out two batters in the seventh inning. Senior Jared Liebelt got the first batter he faced in the eighth inning to groundout, but then surrendered a walk followed by back-to-back singles. The game would remain 5-2 after Liebelt forced the next batter he faced into a double play. For the third-straight day, graduate student Cole Gordon threw the ninth. He tossed a perfect inning with one strikeout to earn his 11th save.
Cecconi (5-4), though impressive, was charged with the Hurricane loss. He finished with three runs allowed on six hits in seven innings of work. He also struck out six batters.
For the Regional-round, six Diamond Dawgs earned NCAA Starkville Regional All-Tournament honors. Sophomore Rowdey Jordan earned the honor and became the sixth MSU baseball player to earn MVP honors of an NCAA Regional after hitting .538 during the weekend. Skelton (C), Allen (1B), Foscue (2B), sophomore Josh Hatcher (DH) and redshirt-junior Ethan Small (P) all earned the honor as well.