LONG BEACH, Calif. - While February 29 comes around nearly once every four years, the 2020 edition of leap day served as an awakening for the Mississippi State baseball offense, as the Diamond Dawgs rolled to a 9-0 victory over Long Beach State on Saturday at Blair Field.
After Long Beach State (7-3) held the Maroon and White scoreless over the first 14 innings of the weekend, Mississippi State (7-3) exploded for four runs in the sixth and four more in the seventh to stake out to an 8-0 lead. MSU added a single run in the eighth to account for the final margin.
Junior Tanner Allen opened the flood gates with a two-RBI triple in the sixth inning and added his third RBI of the game with a seventh-inning RBI double. Junior Rowdey Jordan posted a four-hit day - the third of his career - scored twice and drove in one RBI.
Reaching base three times in the game, junior Justin Foscue hit his second home run of the season in the sixth inning. Foscue also singled and walked in the middle game of the series. Freshman Kamren James, sophomore Brandon Pimentel and junior Jordan Westburg all collected RBIs in the game, as well.
Westburg drove in his run with a sacrifice fly and added a sixth-inning single to move his reached base streak to 30 consecutive games.
The offensive output was only part of the story, as the MSU pitching staff tossed the first shutout of the 2020 campaign. Redshirt-freshman Christian MacLeod (3-0) and freshman Will Bednar (1) combined to allow just four hits in nine scoreless innings. MacLeod threw five inning, struck out five and allowed just one hit to earn the victory, while Bednar fanned six in four innings and gave up three hits to garner his first career save.
The victory gave head coach Chris Lemonis his 200th career head coaching victory, with 59 of those coming at Mississippi State.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis
On playing well in all three phases
"I thought we played a complete game. We pitched well, defended well and we got some clutch hits. We have been pressing [at the plate] a little bit lately, and when Tanner [Allen] hits that ball, it kind of lets us relax and play our game. Then you look up and we are playing like one of the better teams in the country, which we are, over the next four innings. It was great to see us play that way against a really good opponent on the road."
On Christian MacLeod and Will Bednar
"Those two guys were awesome. Christian [MacLeod] had to fight out of the first inning, which good starters have to do sometimes, but after that he dominated. Will Bednar came in and continues to get better every week and really competed on the mound for four innings."
The first four batters of the inning reached base and scored, as the Diamond Dawgs broke a 14-inning scoreless streak on the west coast. Rowdey Jordan and Jordan Westburg each singled to start the inning and Tanner Allen tripled in the next at bat. With the two runs scoring on Allen's triple, the junior was able to come all the way around when the LBSU center fielder misplayed the ball. Justin Foscue followed with a solo home run to left field. Mississippi State 4, Long Beach State 0
Josh Hatcher doubled, and Jordan singled to start the frame, before a sacrifice fly from Westburg pushed the fifth run of the game across. Allen followed with an RBI double and came in to score on a Brandon Pimentel RBI single. Kamren James then knocked in the fourth run of the inning with an RBI double to left-center field. Mississippi State 8, Long Beach State 0
Logan Tanner walked and eventually moved to third with one out, before Jordan singled to plate the final run of the game. Mississippi State 9, Long Beach State 0
The Diamond Dawgs and Dirtbags will play the series finale at 1 p.m. CT on Sunday, March 1. Mississippi State will look to win its third straight series to open the 2020 season.