STARKVILLE • The Mississippi State offense wasted no time as it clinched its third-consecutive berth to the College World Series on Monday night.
No. 7-ranked MSU scored 11 runs in the first five innings, including a six-run second inning, as it beat No. 10 Notre Dame, 11-7, in Game 3 of the super regional at Dudy Noble Field.
The Bulldogs (45-16) have now reached the College World Series for the third-straight season and 12th time overall. MSU will open its Omaha trip on Sunday at 6 p.m. against No. 2 Texas.
"When you sit in that dugout and I hug my coaches, I know how excited they are, but I see all these guys who are going for the first time and man, it brings a joy to you," head coach Chris Lemonis said of going to Omaha. "You know how special it is and not many kids get to play in Omaha. Some of these kids have played there three years and some are going for the first time."
Notre Dame (34-13) started the scoring with a solo home run from Ryan Cole in the top of the first inning, but the Bulldogs quickly tied it up in the bottom of the inning.
Rowdey Jordan led off the inning with an error, and after a Kamren James single, Luke Hancock drove in Jordan on a single to right field to tie the game, 1-1.
A six-run second inning that featured 12 Mississippi State batters stepping to the plate broke the game open. MSU loaded the bases with no outs, and following a Jordan RBI groundout and a Tanner Allen sac-fly, Mississippi State led 3-1.
The Bulldogs, however, did most of its damage with two outs. Kamren James followed Allen’s sac fly with a a RBI single before Logan Tanner hit a three-run home run into the left field lounge to cap the inning off and put MSU up, 7-1.
It felt like it was a really good swing as soon as I took it, and it went out," Tanner said. "I kind of blacked out after that."
Mississippi State had four hits and took advantage of five walks in the second inning.
“We were just more disciplined today and laying off pitches out of the zone,” Tanner said. “It was huge for the offense to get going and to give the pitcher some breathing room. I think it was huge for the confidence of the offense as well.”
Allen, playing in his last game at Dudy Noble Field, added to the lead wit a solo home run in the third inning before Logan Tanner, Brad Cumbest and Kellum Clark each doubled in the fourth to add two more runs and put MSU up, 10-2.
After four innings of two-run ball from pitcher Houston Harding, who made his sixth start of the season, MSU turned the ball over to Stone Simmons. Simmons outing was short-lived after giving up three runs and allowing Notre Dame to cut the lead to 10-5.
MSU got one of its runs back on a Scotty Dubrule RBI single in the bottom of the fifth, Lemonis turned the game over to Landon Sims with a six-run lead.
Sims pitched a career-long four innings for Mississippi State and allowed three hits, including a two-run home run from Niko Kavadas that cut the lead to 11-7.
After the Kavadas home run, Sims retired five batters in a row and struck out the side in the eighth inning. He came back out for the ninth inning, where the Irish batters started the inning with back-to-back singles.
But Sims cracked down and did what he does in every outing, and struck out Notre Dame’s Jared Miller before getting Kavadas to ground into a game-ending double play as he earned his fourth win of the season.
"I wasn't going to throw him another fastball," Sims said of the final at-bat. "I had a really good feel for my slider in the last two innings, so I knew if I located it well, I had a chance for him to roll over it. Any out right there is big, but that double play was huge and it sent us on our way to Omaha."