(Photo Courtesy of Mississippi State Athletics)
The baseball gods giveth, and the baseball gods taketh away. Overnight, they took away the heat that resided in the Bulldog bats during an 8-3 victory over the Texas Longhorns on Saturday. The Bulldog bats cooled off in a big way in a 3-2 loss at the hands of the TCU Horned Frogs in the Bulldog’s 2nd game and the 4th game overall of the State Farm College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, home of the MLB’s Texas Rangers. The Bulldogs produced 7 hits, but only had a 2 in the run column to show for it.
The morning, in itself, began in a strange manner, as projected starter Will Bednar woke up with neck stiffness, which led to the decision to scratch him from today’s lineup. Lefty Houston Harding was given the nod to go a mere 45 minutes before first pitch according to Head Coach Chris Lemonis. Harding pitched well on such short notice, but errors and cold bats plagued the Bulldogs all day long.
The game began with the Horned Frogs drawing first blood in the top of the 1st on a 1 out walk to TCU shortstop Tommy Sacco. Sacco advanced to 2nd on an E6 and was able to steal 3rd and advance home on an E2 to give the Horned Frogs the lead. Things settled at 1-0 until the top of the 6th when TCU center-fielder Hunter Wolf led off with a single followed by a walk by first baseman Gene Wood. A wild pitch allowed the runners to advance, and then a groundout allowed Wolf to score to push the TCU lead to 2-0. The Bulldogs answered the bell in the bottom half of the 6th as center-fielder Rowdey Jordan deposited a pitch into the left-center field bullpen to lead off the inning and put the Diamond Dawgs on the board. Jordan’s solo bomb was his second in as many days, and the senior outfielder is officially on a tear. TCU struck back in the top of the 7th thanks to a walk to TCU right-fielder Luke Boyers who then advanced to third on a double from left-fielder Elijah Nunez and scored on a sacrifice fly from Austin Henry to make it a 3-1 ballgame in favor of the Frogs. The Bulldogs made it interesting in the bottom of the 9th as catcher Logan Tanner opened the frame with a double, and then came around to score on a single from first baseman Josh Hatcher. A single from DH Luke Hancock and a walk to second baseman Scotty Dubrule loaded the bases with one out and a chance for the Dawgs to tie the game. The Horned Frogs brought in closer Garrett Wright who was able to elicit a ground ball from pinch hitter Drew McGowan to induce a game ending double play to seal a 3-2 Horned Frogs victory and drop the Bulldogs to 1-1 on the year.
On the day, starter Houston Harding (0-1) went 3.1 innings and gave up 1 hit, 0 earned runs while striking out 4 and walking 3. Brandon Smith came out of the bullpen for his first appearance in over a year due to injury. Smith pitched 2.2 innings, giving up 1 earned run on 1 hit while striking out 2 and walking 2. A group of young arms were able to make their Bulldog debuts today, Jaxen Forrester, Kole Alford, and Xavier Lovett all took the mound for the first time wearing the M over S and all 3 pitched very well. Senior Chase Patrick also saw time on the mound for the Dawgs.
At the plate, Rowdey Jordan continued his hot streak with a second long ball in as many days. Josh Hatcher had 2 hits and an RBI to extend his hitting streak to 9 games. Luke Hancock also provided 2 hits from his DH spot and continues the be a valuable asset in the lineup.
TCU starter Russell Smith (1-0) was lights out, pitching 5.1 innings, allowing 1 earned run on 3 hits while striking out 6. Both Mississippi State Head Coach Chris Lemonis and center-fielder Rowdey Jordan tipped their hats to the Horned Frog hurler for shutting down the Bulldog bats.
The Bulldogs look to close out the State Farm College Baseball Showdown with a win tomorrow against a Texas Tech ballclub that will no doubt be looking for a little revenge after the Bulldogs took two midweek games from the Red Raider just hours before the 2020 season came to a grinding halt. Coach Lemonis has yet to name a starter and said that they will have to re-assess the pitching situation before making a final decision. He did allude to the fact that tomorrow could be a whole staff type of day. First pitch for tomorrow is at 11 am ct.
My whole plan was to aptly name my Sunday column, “On Sunday We Wear Black” as a nod to the Nickelblack Sunday uniforms that the Diamond Dawgs have donned the past few years. Well today, the Dawgs foiled that plan by debuting new cream jerseys with a cursive “State” script across the chest. So, the jury is still out on a name for this column. As I wrap up this Sunday recap though, I would like to dedicate this column to the memory of a good friend who lost a battle with COVID-19 and was taken from this earth too soon. Joey Harvey was a fellow Mississippi State alumnus and a sports junkie like myself. Joey spent time working for the San Antonio Spurs, San Antonio FC, and had just begun a job as the head of ticket sales and marketing at UTEP before his life was cut tragically short. Not often can you say that a person is a genuinely “Good Dude”, but Joey was just that, and the world is a darker place without him in it. So, do me a favor after reading this column. Go hug you loved ones, make amends, and never let the sun go down on your anger because none of us are promised tomorrow. Goodnight and Hail State!!
Recap and box score can be found here.