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Bulldogs Come Back, Beat Air Force Before Record Opening Day Crowd





DUDY NOBLE FIELD/POLK DEMENT STADIUM-Playing in front of the largest Opening Day campus crowd in school history, which usually translates into national history as well, Mississippi State overcame first game jitters, took a lead and lost it, then plated five runs in their last two at-bats to beat Air Force Academy 8-4 with 11,216 in attendance.


A home run from Golden Spikes Watch List member Dakota Jordan trimmed a 4-2 deficit by a run, but it was another long ball that pivoted the lead to 5-4, this one from Bryce Chance, who missed out on the first dinger of the 2024 year to Jordan but still got the season-first RBI, to go with his team-first HR in 2023.


The Bulldogs didn't play as error free as perhaps Head Coach Chris Lemonis would prefer, and Chance himself committed a baserunning error that didn't show up in the box score.


What did show up in the box score, however, was this manna from the heavens of a new approach to pitching under new assistant Justin Parker: two walks, 2, dos, 1 plus 1. And, one of the two that starter Nate Dohm gave up was intentional at that. So, a remarkable turnaround for a team that was plagued by bases on balls last year to the point some joked you didn't spell Mississippi State with SS's, you spelled it with BB's.


The proof will be in the pudding of sustaining that accuracy season long, but so far, it's a good start, especially when you see numbers like Nate Dohm, 50 strikes of 66 pitches, and the bullpen, 46 strikes out of 54 pitches. Those stats included winning pitcher Tyler Davis, and closer Cam Schuelke, fresh off being named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list, gaining his first D1 save in his first D1 appearance, of two innings.


Schuelke threw just 16 pitches (15 strikes) and answered a post-game question about his availability the rest of the weekend by noting he once pitched five straight games in the Cape Cod League, where he was equally lauded for his side-armed effectiveness.


The teams play again on Saturday, at 4:00 pm CT, and finish out the three-game series on Sunday, with a 1:00 pm contest. Head Coach Chris Lemonis met with the media and took questions following the victory.


LINE SCORE

Air Force 4-10-3

Mississippi State 8-9-2




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