If you go to a showdown in Texas, you better have a lethal weapon and plenty of ammo. Luckily for the Bulldogs, they showed up locked and loaded for their battle in the Lone Star Republic. Saturday, February 20th saw the end to the longest off-season in Mississippi State baseball history as the Diamond Dawgs traveled to Arlington, Texas to open the State Farm College Baseball Showdown against perennial powerhouse, The University of Texas. This contest held one of the most anticipated pitching matchups of the weekend, as Mississippi State junior ace Christian MacLeod and Texas sophomore ace Ty Madden faced off to open the season for both squads.
The 1st inning was relatively quiet for both sides as Madden struck out the side in the top of the 1st and Christian MacLeod left one runner stranded after giving up a bunt single to Texas left-fielder Eric Kennedy in the bottom of the first. That quiet didn’t last long as Mississippi State drew first blood in the top of the 2nd. A two out walk to DH Luke Hancock began the rally as that was followed by hits by 2nd baseman Scotty Dubrule, an RBI single by 3rd baseman Landon Jordan, and an RBI single from left-fielder Drew McGowan. Things settled in for another 2 innings until the top of the 4th when the Bulldogs got to Texas starter Ty Madden again for 2 more runs. A frozen rope home run to right field from DH Luke Hancock opened the 4th inning, Madden then surrendered back-to-back walks, then Scotty Dubrule was able to score off of a throwing error by Texas shortstop Trey Faltine. The 5th inning saw runs cross the plate for both teams, as the Bulldogs opened the frame against Texas reliever Pete Hansen with a Tanner Allen single, followed by a passed ball that moved him to second, two outs later, Luke Hancock recorded his second RBI on the day with a base hit up the middle to plate Allen. The bottom of the 5th saw the Longhorns get on the board with an absolute moon shot to left-center from DH Ivan Melendez to open the frame. Christian MacLeod encountered some trouble in the bottom of the 5th after the Melendez home run. Texas 3rd baseman Cam Williams doubled, followed by a single from catcher Silas Ardoin, and a single from 2nd baseman Murphy Stehly to load the bases with nobody out. The Bulldogs then made a call to the bullpen for sophomore righty Landon Sims, which would prove to be a wise move, as Sims promptly came in and struck out 3 straight Longhorns to escape the bases loaded jam. The Bulldogs got that run back in the top of the 6th, beginning with a Landon Jordan walk, followed by a Drew McGowan single that moved Jordan to 3rd, and then a fielder’s choice, which allowed Landon Jordan to score. Meanwhile, Landon Sims was cruising against the Longhorn’s offense with a 95 mph fastball that was baffling the Texas hitters. In the top of the 8th, Rowdey Jordan sent a ball high into the left field seats for the Bulldog’s 7th run of the contest. Run number 8 came shortly after on a Tanner Allen single followed by a Josh Hatcher double to drive in Allen. The Longhorns got two runs back in the 9th off of Bulldog reliever Riley Self on a Zach Zubia single, followed by an Ivan Melendez double to drive in Zubia. After recording 1 out, Silas Ardoin singled to drive in Melendez to make it 8-3 in favor of the Bulldogs. That’s where the score would stay, as Bulldog closer Spencer Price was summoned to slam the door on the Longhorns for an 8-3 victory for the Diamond Dawgs.
On the day, Bulldog reliever Landon Sims faced 12 batters and recorded 10 K’s, yes you read that right. Sims was nails for 4 innings with a very live fastball that shut down a potent Longhorn lineup. He finished with 0 runs on 0 hits and 10 K’s along with being credited for the W. Starter Christian MacLeod was very effective as well, going 4 innings, giving up 1 earned run on 4 hits. Riley Self was responsible for 1 K and Spencer Price recorded the final 2 outs to seal the contest.
At the plate, Luke Hancock went 3-4 with a home run and 2 RBIs. Rowdey Jordan finished with a home run and 2 RBIs. Josh Hatcher extended his hitting streak to 8 games, dating back to last year, while also registering an RBI on an 8th inning double. Landon Jordan finished his day reaching base three times and driving in a run.
Ty Madden finished his day for Texas with 3 earned runs in 4 innings, he registered 5 K’s and 3 BB while taking the loss.
The Bulldogs look to carry the momentum into Sunday against a very talented TCU team at 11 am central.
Box score and recap can be found here