OMAHA, Neb. – First, Jordan Westburg brought the Mississippi State baseball team, the rally banana.
Tuesday at TD Ameritrade Park, the freshman designated hitter brought the Bulldogs a 12-2 College World Series win over No. 6 national seed North Carolina.
Westburg hit a grand slam to highlight a four-run second inning, before hitting a three-run double during State’s eight-run eighth inning. He became the sixth player in CWS history to drive in seven runs in a game, as well as the first to accomplish that feat since the 2001 season.
“The grand slam with two strikes in the second inning was big,” MSU assistant coach Jake Gautreau said. “Our offense was not good early, but it was good later. Konnor Pilkington and Cole Gordon teamed up to pitch a great game. Against Washington, we struck out more than usual. Today, we asked the guys to have a two-strike approach to start at-bats. That helped us get some really good at-bats against quality two-strike pitches.”
MSU (39-27) will face either North Carolina (44-19) or Oregon State (50-11-1) at 2 p.m. Friday (ESPN). The Bulldogs will have two chances to win one game to reach the CWS championship series for the second time in six seasons.
MSU is now 2-0 in College World Series play for the third time in the program’s 10 appearances.
Pilkington (3-6) allowed six hits and two runs (both earned) in six-plus innings of work. He was lifted after a leadoff triple in the UNC seventh inning. Gordon allowed one hit, while facing 10 batters, in three innings of relief work for his fourth save.
The Tar Heels built a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a leadoff double, ground out and fly out.
From there, the Bulldogs were in control.
In the second inning, Elijah MacNamee reached on a single, Justin Foscue reached on an error and Luke Alexander singled to load the bases.
After a strikeout, Westburg hit MSU’s first grand slam in Omaha since Bobby Thigpen during the Bulldogs’ 1985 run.
North Carolina starter Austin Bergner (7-3) retired 16 straight after the grand slam before a leadoff single by Dustin Skelton in the eighth inning.
Westburg followed with a hit, before Jake Mangum drew an intentional walk to load the bases and end Bergner’s day.
Rowdey Jordan, Tanner Allen and Hunter Stovall followed with consecutive RBI-singles. MacNamee reached on a ground ball, which led to an error and another run. Alexander forced in a run with a bases-loaded hit batsman, before Westburg capped the big inning with his double just inside the left field line.
Westburg finished with three of the Bulldogs’ nine hits.
NEXT UP FOR MSU
The Diamond Dawgs continue their tremendous run in Omaha with a Friday afternoon battle against either North Carolina or third national seed Oregon State. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. CT at TD Ameritrade Park on ESPN. State needs just one win to advance to the national championship series for the first time since 2013 and the second time in program history.