(Photo Courtesy of Mississippi State Athletics)
“We knew it was do or die, and we didn’t wanna die, so we had to do.”
The Bulldog catcher has an early nomination for postgame quote of the year following his walk-off 3-run home run to cap off a comeback Saturday at Dudy Noble Field. The Diamond Dawgs entered the bottom of the 9th down 1-0 to Eastern Michigan. The Boys in Maroon, once again, used phenomenal pitching to keep the Eagles in check until the bats could come alive.
Starter Eric Cerantola (ND) worked around a shaky 1st inning to produce his best start of the year. After hitting 2 batters in the 1st, the righty from Oakville, Ontario settled in to work 5 innings, giving up 1 run on 1 hit and striking out 5. Just as lethal was Eastern Michigan starter Justin Meis (0-2), who worked 8 innings and held the Bulldogs to 1 hit and 0 runs through 8 before allowing the runners that scored to win the game in the 9th.
The scoring was little and fast in the contest, with Eastern Michigan taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the 4th when Taylor Hopkins took advantage of a changeup that got too much of the plate. He blasted it into left field for a solo home run. That was all the scoring the Eagles would do as Eric Cerantola would combine with Preston Johnson, Cam Tullar, and Carlisle Koestler (2-0) to hold the Eagles to that 1 run on just 2 hits. That 4th inning home run broke the Bulldogs’ scoreless innings streak at 39, a new school record.
Fast forward to the bottom of the 9th, and the Cardiac Dawgs would strike again. The inning started with a Tanner Allen single. Kamren James was then hit by pitch. Luke Hancock followed with a single into right to plate Allen and tie the ballgame. Logan Tanner then stepped into the box to greet the new Eastern Michigan pitcher. The first pitch he threw would also be the last, as Logan Tanner deposited that pitch into the lounge in left-center to send the Bulldog faithful home from The Carnegie Hall of College Baseball with smiles on their faces and a 4-1 victory.
The home run was Tanner’s first on the year, and he couldn’t have picked a better time for it. Logan Tanner finished the game with just that big 1 hit and 3 RBIs. Luke Hancock added a hit and an RBI, and Tanner Allen added 2 hits.
Logan Tanner said, “When TA (Tanner Allen) led off the inning with a single and the stadium began to roar, I knew we were going to win.” He was right, and his actions in that 9th inning made him the clear choice to receive the victory shirt:
Coach Chris Lemonis added, when asked about the walkoff, “I just think we don’t quit.”
Eric Cerantola really found his mojo again today. He, like Christian MacLeod, had struggled to open the season and even had Bulldog skipper Chris Lemonis concerned. It’s safe to say that everyone feels much better after the performance the hurler turned in Saturday. After his second hit batter in the 1st inning today, it seemed as if something clicked in Cerantola. He angrily pounded his glove and could be seen giving himself a good talking to. We’ll never know what he said to himself, but it worked. This was Cerantola’s final start before he toes the rubber at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge next Saturday, and the righty looks ready.
When asked about the back-to-back quality starts turned in by Christian MacLeod and Eric Cerantola, Coach Lemonis said, “We got two good starts. It lets us pitch our bullpen the way we want to pitch it. They give us an opportunity to have some momentum throughout the game. Even though it was 1-0 [today], Eric really dominated most of the game. We were able to get on and off the field. Hopefully, they continue that. That’s the pattern. I give them a lot of credit. I know it is stressful for them when they don’t pitch well. They want to win. They want to help us win. They want to be a part of that. When they don’t have good outings, they take it personal.”
The Bulldogs look to sweep the series tomorrow when Jackson Fristoe toes the rubber. First pitch is scheduled for 1 pm CT.
Recap and Box Score can be found here
I’m a music lover, and I plan to start adding a song to the end of each article, so in honor of the Canadian flame-thrower having a big day on the mound, here’s one of the best bands to come out of the Great White North (Fight Me):