STARKVILLE • Postseason baseball will be returning to the new Dudy Noble Field for a second straight weekend.
No. 3 Mississippi State swept through the Starkville Regional and secured the Bulldogs’ fourth-consecutive super regional appearance with a 5-2 victory over Miami on Sunday night.
“I thought our guys were really good,” said MSU coach Chris Lemonis. “Everyone was locked into the game. It was two of the better teams in the country, and they were fighting it out. Fortunately for us, we came out on top.”
The Diamond Dogs will have to wait another day to find out their super regional opponent. Stanford and Fresno State will play an elimination tonight at 9 p.m. CT and the super regional schedule will be released after all regionals are concluded.
MSU (49-13) did all of its offensive damage in the fourth and eighth innings.
The Diamond Dogs started the fourth frame with a single by Jake Mangum – his first hit of the regional – and was followed by a double from Jordan Westburg and an RBI single by Tanner Allen. Justin Foscue later hit a sacrifice fly and Dustin Skelton delivered a two-out RBI single to give State a 3-1 lead.
After Miami cut the deficit to one, the Bulldogs tacked on two more runs in the eighth. Marshall Gilbert led off the inning with a walk and motored around to third on a double by Mangum. Westburg drove in both runners with a single.
State finished the game with eight hits led by Mangum, who broke out of a 0 for 18 slump. The SEC’s all-time hits leader went 3 for 4 against Miami with a double.
“I just stayed true to who I am,” Mangum said. “If you play the game the right way and play hard, good things are going to happen. I hit a ball four feet and beat it out. Baseball being the weird game that it is, I started finding some barrels.”
Westburg finished 2 for 4 at the plate with a double and two RBIs.
Peyton Plumlee picked up the win for Mississippi State to improve to 6-4. Plumlee pitched five innings, giving up two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
“I knew they were going to be aggressive and try to pull the ball and try to hit home runs and doubles all night,” Plumlee said. “I knew that if I could stay away from them and keep the ball down in the zone that I could just move it to the defense.”
Trysten Barlow, Colby White and Jared Liebelt all worked a scoreless inning of relief before handing things over to Cole Gordon to close out the bottom of the ninth for his 11th save of the season.
It was the third straight game Gordon had finished out in the regional.
“Watching his warm-up pitches, he was as good – if not better – than he was two nights before,” Lemonis said. “We’re glad to have him. He’s such a tough kid and I’m just glad he’s on our team.”
Miami also had eight hits and saw its season end with a 41-20 record. Freddy Zamora and Raymond Gil were both 2 for 4 for the Hurricanes including Gil’s solo home run in the second inning.
Slade Cecconi (5-4) suffered the loss despite retiring the first nine batters he faced – five via a strikeout. Cecconi logged seven innings and surrendered three runs on six hits with six strikeouts and no walks.
Rowdey Jordan was named the Starkville Regional Most Valuable Player after going 7 for 13 with a double, homer, five RBIs and three runs scored in three victories over Southern, Central Michigan and Miami.
“I battled through some adversity at the beginning of the year and being the MVP this weekend means a lot,” Jordan said.
Skelton, Allen, Foscue, Josh Hatcher and Ethan Small were also selected to the Starkville All-Regional Team.