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Bulldogs Sweep Series With Auburn Behind 'Super' Pitching Effort


Mississippi State switch pitcher Jurrangelo Cijntje


By Doug Kyle


The event billed as "Super Bulldog Weekend" at Mississippi State is a spring homecoming of sorts, the occasion when some, but not all, of MSU's list of record campus baseball crowds have been compiled. In 2024, the sports lineup was limited to the spring football game and a three-game SEC baseball series with Auburn.


The football intrasquad contest was entertaining and as competitive as those things go, but the baseball series, critical to both teams for different reasons, featured some "Super" pitching by the Bulldogs, as starter Khal Stephen on Friday paved the way with an 8-1 win in Game One, the single AU run unearned.


That was followed Sunday afternoon (when rain Saturday pushed the schedule into a doubleheader of two seven-inning games) in Game Two by switch pitcher Jurrangelo Cijntje (sane-juh) delivering a gutsy performance before leaving after 110 pitches with two outs in the seventh and final inning. Tyson Hardin retired Auburn star Ike Irish on a fly ball to right field with the bases loaded, and the crowd of 12,978 breathed a sigh of relief as the Bulldogs won 3-1 and advanced to 9-8, matching their conference win total of 2023 that took until May 18 last season to reach.


The third series game, and second of the doubleheader, was a bit different and not as super at first, with reliever Brooks Auger making his first career start. Auger pitched well in the early going but hit his limit in the fourth inning after 53 pitches and loaded the bases with no outs and just a 1-0 lead.


Auburn, which has been winless on the SEC road so far in 2024, took advantage for a 3-1 lead when reliever Cole Cheatham walked in the tying run, and Cam Schuelke rolled two run-scoring fielder's choices (one force out negated by an errant throw) and a double play to limit the damage. Freshman two-way player Nolan Stevens relieved Schuelke with one out in the fifth and got the final two outs on ground balls, as the "Super" pitching had begun to return.


Stevens then retired Auburn in order in the top of the sixth inning, keeping the Bulldogs within reach, but they left the tying runs on base in the bottom half before moving to what was scheduled as the final inning. Tyson Hardin, who got the save in Game One, entered the game in the seventh and didn't just retire Auburn in order, he struck out the side.


In the bottom of the seventh, State's last chance, the Bulldogs got a game-tying double from Logan Kohler, driving in Connor Hujsak and Bryce Chance after they had both singled. State seemed poised to end it all right then and there, as fans leaned forward on the edge of their seats awaiting the walkoff and the sweep, Kohler in scoring position with no outs. But, pinch runner Aaron Downs was picked off, Ethan Pulliam's ground ball was merely out 2, not advancing the runner, and Joe Powell's fly ball to right field was not a game-winning sacrifice fly after all, only the end of the inning.


As dismayed and disheartened as some fans might have been to "only" tie and not win the game, the State dugout was not. Hardin kept the hammer down, getting a fly ball and two more strikeouts in the top of the eighth, and first extra, inning.


In the bottom half, the Bulldogs again flirted with disaster. Amani Larry doubled to lead off, reached third on a wild pitch, was unable to go home on David Mershon's ground ball to second, then after an intentional walk to Dakota Jordan, was tagged out in a fielder's choice rundown on Hunter Hines' ground ball to the pitcher.


Not to worry, though, which is easy to say now. Connor Hujsak calmly stroked his second hit of the game to left field, Jordan scored for a 4-3 extra innings walkoff victory, and the Bulldogs had survived two self-inflicted gut punches to attain their first sweep of an SEC series since 2021, improving their conference record to 10-8, also the best in three years.


Afterwards, Head Coach Chris Lemonis praised his team for their resiliency and emphasized both to media and his team the important distinction he'd been preaching about the huge difference between winning a series and sweeping one. Here are his comments:



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