Louisville ends Mississippi State’s season in Omaha with walk-off

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Photo courtesy of Mississippi State Athletics

Story by SportsTalk Mississippi’s MSU Beat Reporter Brian Hadad

Omaha – Mississippi State looked to be on the verge of advancing to another showdown with Vanderbilt, holding a 3-0 lead going into the seventh inning over Louisville after a strong start from freshman JT Ginn. Instead, the Bulldogs find themselves headed home to Starkville, after giving up 2 runs in the bottom of that inning and 2 more in the ninth to lose in walk-off fashion to the Cardinals 4-3. State finishes the season at 52-15, coming up short of a national title in the program’s 11th trip to the College World Series.

WATCH: Mississippi State’s Chris Lemonis and Players React to Thursday’s Heartbreaking Loss to Louisville

ROWDEY GETS IT GOING

MSU struck first for 2 runs in the 4th inning, with Rowdey Jordan’s double scoring Dustin Skelton to break the ice. Gunner Halter would follow with a single to bring home Jordan. Later in the top of the seventh, Tanner Allen would score Jake Mangum with an RBI single to extend State’s lead to 3-0. MSU was unable to tack on anything from there and ended up stranding 8 in the game.

THE FINAL MOMENT

Just as it did in the bottom of the seventh, a leadoff walk bit the Bulldogs, as Gordon’s leadoff base on balls ended up being the tying run, following a failed pickoff throw getting away then an RBI double from Louisville’s Danny Oriente. From there, Cardinal right fielder Drew Campbell fouled off four pitches before striking one to center that Jake Mangum was unable to make a play on, bringing the winning run home and ending the Bulldogs’ season. Mangum collapsed in the outfield in a heap following the play, as the reality came crashing down around him that his season and career in Starkville had come to an end.

LOOKING BACK

Coach Chris Lemonis arrived at MSU in June a year ago as an unknown commodity to most Bulldog fans. Jake Mangum returned for one more year at Dudy Noble to chase records and the program’s first national title. Ethan Small came back to prove he could be an ace in the SEC. JT Ginn turned down over 2 million dollars to be a Bulldog.

There were many storylines that tied together across this team, and now, as the pain of this loss is so fresh, it will be difficult to look beyond the here and now. In retrospect, this was an incredible season for Mississippi State, as they spent the majority of the year in the top 5 and opened the newly rebuilt Dudy Noble Field with a tremendous bang.

Obviously, the Bulldogs came up short of the final goal, but there can be no shame in a 52 win season that ends in Omaha. A good portion of the Bulldogs batting order will be in maroon and white next season, and Ginn should rise up to take Small’s place as the Friday night ace.

As for Lemonis, it appears the Bulldogs found a diamond in the rough, as he looks poised to bring stability to a program that still lacks only that one checkmark on the resume. After four straight seasons with four different head coaches, Lemonis will be back in the dugout to lead the 2020 squad, possibly back to this very spot.

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