MSU blasts walk-off homer to seal victory over FIU
STARKVILLE, Miss. - With tax season in full swing, another one of life's certainties is quickly becoming Mississippi State's Brent Rooker.
Rooker hit a pair of two-run home runs - including the game-winner - as No. 25 MSU beat Florida International 9-7 in 10 innings Wednesday night at Dudy Noble Field.
MSU rallied from a 6-1 deficit with a strong performance from the bullpen. The Bulldogs eventually got hot at the plate with two runs in the eighth inning to tie the contest and two runs in the 10th inning to win the game.
"We just kept battling all night," head coach Andy Cannizaro said. "We were down five runs and just kept working at it. Our bullpen guys did a great job of giving us a chance. Brent Rooker may be the best college baseball player in the nation. He is certainly the best hitter right now."
The Bulldogs (20-11) pounded out 13 hits and stranded 11 base runners.
Rooker had three hits and five RBIs. Hunter Vansau had a career-high three hits and two RBIs. Luke Alexander also had multiple hits.
Cole Gordon drew the start for the Bulldogs. Gordon allowed three hits and two runs (both earned) over 2.1 innings of work. Jacob Barton, Denver McQuary, Riley Self, Tristen Barlow and Spencer Price threw in relief.
Price (3-1) pitched 2.1 innings, allowing one hit with three strikeouts to get the win.
"I thought each of the guys tonight pitched well," Cannizaro said. "The back end of the bullpen was really great when we were trying to rally from a deficit."
FIU (17-12) built a 6-1 lead with six runs in the third inning.
In the third inning, Vansau had an RBI-single and Tanner Poole brought home a run on a ground ball out. In the fourth inning, Rooker hit a two-run home run to left center.
Things stayed tight with the Panthers getting a critical insurance score in the eighth inning.
In the home half of the eighth inning, the Bulldogs pulled within a run on a bases-loaded walk issued to Rooker. Ryan Gridley then struck out but reached on a wild pitch to score the game-tying run.
In the ninth inning, the Bulldogs got a single and walk but couldn't score. An inning later, Jake Mangum singled and Rooker ended things with his 12th home run of the season.
With the win, the Bulldogs have won eight of their last nine and can now turn their thoughts to a Super Bulldog Weekend series with Kentucky.
"Hopefully, we can set all kinds of attendance records this weekend," Cannizaro said. "I am excited about participating in my first Super Bulldog Weekend as a head coach. It has always been one of the special events in sports. We are looking forward to some great crowds and playing a great team."
State will continue its homestand with Super Bulldog Weekend as No. 10 Kentucky comes to Starkville for a three-game Southeastern Conference series. The action will commence on Friday at 6 p.m. CT on SEC Network+.