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The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

MSU gets one step closer to Omaha with win

2069 days ago
Mississippi State Athletics

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Pete Taylor Park's magic belonged to the visitors Monday night.

No. 2 seed MSU knocked off top-seeded Southern Mississippi 8-6 in the championship game of the Hattiesburg Regional. The Bulldogs had to win four games in two days to win the regional and did just that.

Jacob Billingsley threw MSU's second complete game of the season with an 8-1 victory early Monday against the Golden Eagles to force a winner-take-all championship game.

It was the first time since 1979 that MSU lost the opening game of a regional tournament and came back through the losers' bracket to win the title.

MSU (40-25) will face No. 4 national seed LSU (46-17) in super regional play at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

MSU will play in a super regional for a second straight season and seventh time overall. The conference rivals will meet with each needing two wins in the best-of-three series to advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Bulldogs make back-to-back super regionals for the first time since 2000-01.

Southern Mississippi (50-16) finished with a school record for victories. The Golden Eagles lost back-to-back home games for the third time this season Monday.

Riley Self closed the contest as chants of "Maroon" and "White" broke out in what head coach Andy Cannizaro had called "Starkville South" during the tournament.

"This is unbelievable," Cannizaro said. "This is what has epitomized our team the whole season. They fight. They play hard. They never give up. Jacob Billingsley gave us the biggest start of the season. We talked about not wanting this to be the last weekend of Mississippi State baseball for our veteran guys.

"Making a super regional team with this team is incredible. We will be playing in Baton Rouge this weekend and we are jacked about it."

The Bulldogs battled uphill most of Monday night's second game. MSU starter Cole Gordon did not last through the first inning as the Golden Eagles erased a 1-0 deficit by scoring four times.

Brent Rooker's 23rd home run of the season had given MSU the early lead.

Down 5-1, the Bulldogs struck for three more scores in fifth inning, courtesy of regional Most Valuable Player Cody Brown's ninth home run of the season.

The Bulldogs had missed out on some earlier scoring chances as the Golden Eagles were helped throughout the contest by three double play balls.

Down 6-4, the Bulldogs loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh inning. A double play hurt the Bulldogs' chances as the big inning but a run did score.

MSU took the lead in the eighth inning when Josh Lovelady and Hunter Stovall drew walks. Rooker hit a two-out single which fell just inside the right field line to plate a pair of runs.

Elijah MacNamee closed the scoring with an RBI-single with two outs in the ninth inning.

Trey Jolly relieved Gordon in the first inning and worked 3.1 innings, allowing three hits and one run (earned). Spencer Price (4-1) worked three innings, allowing two hits and one run (earned). Self threw two innings of one-hit relief to close out his eighth save.

MSU finished with 11 hits. The Bulldogs had 10 or more hits in their final four tournament games. Rooker, Mangum, Vansau and Harrison Bragg each had multiple hits.

Hunter Slater had three of Southern Miss' 10 hits. Closer Nick Sandlin (10-2) took the loss.

Stovall, Gridley, Mangum and Billingsley were also chosen to the all-tournament team.

With a spot secured in the NCAA Tournament's Super Regional round, MSU will now prepare for a best-of-three series against LSU at Alex Box Stadium.