From Mississippi State
PEARL, Miss. – When the odds look the longest, the Mississippi State baseball team keeps coming through.
A two-run double by Luke Alexander in the bottom of the ninth inning allowed MSU to knock off No. 5 Ole Miss 7-6 in the annual Governor’s Cup battle played before a crowd of 8,515 at Trustmark Park.
“It was an exciting game between two rivals,” MSU head coach Gary Henderson said. “The fans saw a great game and they saw a huge win for our ball club. We are competing at a higher level. We are having more competitive at-bats. You can see the strides we have made with this team.”
MSU erased a deficit on four occasions during the contest, including a 4-3 deficit in the seventh inning before trailing 6-5 in the ninth inning.
MSU secured the Governor’s Cup for a third-straight season. Dating back to the 2016 MSU-Ole Miss late-season game in Pearl, the Bulldogs have won eight of the last nine games in the overall series.
MSU improved to 23-19 with its fourth straight win, while moving to 6-1 against Top 10 opposition this season. Ole Miss fell to 32-10. The contest does not count in the Southeastern Conference standings.
In the third inning, MSU grabbed a 2-1 lead. Marshall Gilbert started things with a one-out double. Rowdey Jordan followed with a double. Jake Mangum then drove home both runs with a double down the left field line.
After the Rebels grabbed a 3-2 lead, the Bulldogs pulled even in the home half of the fourth inning on an RBI ground-rule double by Elijah MacNamee.
Ole Miss then again reclaimed the lead in the fifth inning. The Rebels held that advantage until Gilbert tied things with a one-out home run down the left field line.
In the eighth inning, Tanner Allen started things with a triple for the Bulldogs. After a groundout, Jordan Westburg flew out to the left field warning track for a go-ahead sacrifice fly.
That lead would be short-lived as the Rebels touched four Bulldog hurlers for a pair of runs on two hits in the top half of the ninth inning.
After winning pitcher Cole Gordon (3-2) got the only batter he faced to get his team back in the dugout, the Bulldogs again put the rally caps on against the Rebels.
Gilbert singled and took second base on a sacrifice bunt by Jordan. After an intentional walk to Mangum, Alexander – who earlier in the season hit a walk-off home run against Ole Miss – followed that up with a double to the right center gap to bring home the game-tying and game-winning runs.
For MSU, Gilbert finished with three of his team’s nine hits.
Denver McQuary drew the start and worked five innings for the Bulldogs. McQuary allowed six hits and four runs (three earned), with three strikeouts. Keegan James, Zach Neff, JP France, Blake Smith and Gordon also pitched for the Bulldogs.
Ole Miss finished with 10 hits. Tim Rowe had three hits and Chase Cockrell had two hits for the Rebels. Parker Caracci (2-2) took the loss.
State will be back at Dudy Noble Field this weekend to continue Southeastern Conference play with a three-game series against No. 18 Texas A&M. The series will commence Friday with a 6:30 p.m. start on SEC Network+. Tickets for all three games can be purchased at HailState.com/tickets.
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Photo courtesy of Blake Williams/MSU Athletics