HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Mississippi State baseball team was taken to the brink before advancing in the Hattiesburg Regional Sunday afternoon.
Behind a strong start from Konnor Pilkington, second-seeded MSU held on late for a 5-4 victory against fourth-seeded Illinois-Chicago at Pete Taylor Park.
MSU (37-25) will now advance to face the loser of the Southern Mississippi-South Alabama contest at 6 p.m. Sunday. That contest will be available on ESPN3.
"An outstanding win for our guys," head coach Andy Cannazaro said. "Our guys played a full nine innings. Konnor was great for the first seven innings. He really threw a lot of strikes. Riley (Self) battled hard to get the game completed."
Pilkington (8-5) allowed one hit over the first seven innings of work and had a stretch of 14 straight retired batters. Overall, Pilkington allowed four hits and four runs (all earned), with nine strikeouts and two walks.
The strikeout performance gives Pilkington 107 for the season. He is the 19th Bulldog hurler to strike out 100 or more batters in a season.
Pilkington was pulled after three straight hits to the start the eighth inning. Spencer Price faced two batters before giving way to Self. Self was touched for a hit in the eighth inning and then allowed a hit and walked two in the ninth inning. A strikeout and groundout followed to nail down Self's seventh save of the season.
MSU scored first in the third inning. After UIC (39-17) battled back to tie, MSU scored three times in the fourth inning to take the lead for good.
In that at-bat, Hunter Vansau started things with a one-out double. Elijah MacNamee followed with an RBI-single. Josh Lovelady walked before Cole Gordon singled to bring home MacNamee. Brent Rooker followed with school-record 30th double to plate Lovelady.
An RBI-double by MacNamee capped the scoring for the Maroon and White in the fifth inning.
MSU finished with 14 hits and stranded 10 base runners. Jake Mangum had three hits, while Rooker, Gridley, MacNamee and Cody Brown each had two hits.
State will return to Pete Taylor Park for another elimination game on Sunday evening to take on the loser of the Southern Miss/South Alabama game at 6 p.m. CT.