STARKVILLE, Miss. — The No. 3 Mississippi State baseball team is just one away from heading back to Omaha for the College World Series after taking care of No. 4 Stanford by a score of 6-2 in front of 13,132 fans in the first game of a best two-of-three Super Regional series Saturday night at Dudy Noble Field.
MSU (50-13) trailed 1-0 after one inning of play, but tied things up at 1-1 in the second inning before scoring two runs in the third inning and three runs in the fourth inning to take a 6-1 lead. Stanford (45-13) was limited to just a run in the first inning and a run in the eighth inning.
Stanford took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but it could have been a lot worse. Stanford loaded the bases with just one out. Junior Andrew Daschbach then hit a ball to the fence, but senior Jake Mangum made a clutch play and the Dawgs surrendered just one run on a sacrifice fly from Daschbach.
State would tie things up at 1-1 in the second inning when junior Dustin Skelton hit a one-out double down the right field line and came around to score on an RBI single from sophomore Josh Hatcher. Stanford had a chance to score with a pair of two-out singles in the second, but a flyout to the right field warning track ending the threat.
The bottom of the third began with a leadoff double from sophomore Jordan Westburg. A lineout would follow before flyout moved him over to third. Sophomore Justin Foscue was intentionally walked to set up the double play, but Skelton came through with his second double of the night, knocking in two runs and giving the Diamond Dawgs a 3-1 lead.
The Dawgs increased their lead by three more runs in the fourth inning to take a 6-1 lead. Hatcher doubled to left center and senior Marshall Gilbert worked a walk to begin the frame. Mangum was out at first on the next play, but both runners moved up a base to put two runners into scoring position. A fielding error then allowed Hatcher to score before sophomore Tanner Allen’s RBI single plated Gilbert. The third run of the inning came on an RBI groundout from senior Elijah MacNamee.
The Cardinal used a trio of singles in the eighth inning to add a run, but that was all, as State took the opening game 6-2.
Four MSU hitters tuned in multi-hit efforts, including Westburg (2-for-5), Allen (2-for-5), Skelton (2-for-4) and Hatcher (2-for-3).
Redshirt-junior southpaw Ethan Small (10-2) got the start on the mound and worked six innings where he allowed one unearned run on five hits. He fanned eight batters and walked two.
A trio of State pitchers would then pitch an inning apiece. Junior Colby White threw the seventh and surrendered no hits, but walked two batters. He also struck out two. Senior Jared Liebelt then pitched the eighth inning and allowed one run on three hits. He struck out a pair of batters. Graduate student Cole Gordon then worked a scoreless ninth inning where he struck out two batters.
Sophomore righty Brendan Beck (5-4) was charged with the Stanford loss. He allowed five runs (all earned) on seven hits. He struck out two batters and walked three.
The best two-of-three series continues on Sunday at 8 p.m. CT. The game will air on ESPNU.