STARKVILLE, Miss. — No. 12 Mississippi State defeated Campbell 6-5 in the Starkville Regional championship on Monday at Dudy Noble Field to advance to the super regional stage of the NCAA baseball tournament.
With the win, the Bulldogs improve to 43-15 and advance to the super regionals for the fifth straight season. The Fighting Camels end their season at 37-18.
MSU trailed 3-2 early before scoring two runs in the third inning and one run in both the fourth and fifth innings to take a 6-3 lead. Campbell made it a one-run game in the sixth inning, but MSU sophomore closer Landon Sims closed the door with three scoreless innings.
Sophomore Kamren James led the Bulldogs with two hits, three RBIs and two runs. Seniors Tanner Allen and Rowdey Jordan added two hits and one run scored apiece, while sophomore Logan Tanner had two hits, one run and one RBI.
MSU freshman pitcher Jackson Fristoe got the start on the mound and was pulled after allowing three runs on one hit in one-third of an inning.
Senior Houston Harding (7-2) earned the win after tossing five innings and allowing two runs on three hits with 10 strikeouts and two walks. In the bottom of the sixth inning, he surrendered back-to-back singles before he got a bunt out. MSU then went to the bullpen for junior Preston Johnson. Johnson allowed a two-RBI single.
Sims earned his ninth save and allowed just two hits with four strikeouts in three innings of work.
Freshman pitcher Cade Boxrucker (0-2) got the loss for Campbell after allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits in 3 1⁄3 innings. He struck out two batters and walked three.
In the top of the first inning, Jordan singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. A groundout advanced him to third before James doubled down the left-field line to score him. James stole third and scored on a throwing error to make it 2-0.
The Camels drew a pair of walks in the bottom half of the first inning before redshirt senior Spencer Packard homered to right field to give Campbell a 3-2 lead.
A groundout and strikeout began the top of the third inning before Allen singled to right field. James followed with a two-run home run to left field to give the Bulldogs a 4-3 lead.
Junior Brad Cumbest hit a leadoff single in the top of the fourth inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Freshman Lane Forsythe then drew a one-out walk. On the next play, Forsythe was out at second and Jordan reached first to put runners on the corners. A wild pitch plated Cumbest and increased the MSU lead to 5-3.
A one-out home run from Tanner put the Bulldogs ahead 6-3 in the top of the fifth inning.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Harding gave up singles to redshirt seniors Collin Wolf and Matthew Christian. A double steal followed before the first out of the inning was recorded. Johnson came in for Harding and was greeted with a two-RBI single by redshirt senior Marcus Skundrich to make it a 6-5 ballgame. Skundrich was out trying to stretch his hit into a double. Johnson walked redshirt sophomore Mason De La Cruz before getting a strikeout for the final out of the frame.
The NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team featured five Bulldogs. James was named Most Valuable Player. Sophomore pitcher Will Bednar, Harding, Jordan and Allen also made the team. It marks the 13th time in program history that MSU had five or more players on the all-regional squad.
The Bulldogs, who hold the No. 7 national seed, will return to action this weekend when they host No. 10 seed Notre Dame in a best-of-three super regional series at Dudy Noble Field. The winner of the series will be one of eight teams to advance to the College World Series.