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'Marvelous, Governor': Bulldogs Score Late To Beat Rebels, Retain Trophy


Right fielder Dakota Jordan (left) and pitcher Tyler Davis (right)


By Doug Kyle


Sure, it was just a midweek game. Sure, it doesn't count for the SEC race that ends in Hoover, AL, on Memorial Day weekend, but it does count for college baseball's version of the Big Dance that ends in Omaha, NE, a month later.


Sure, Jan, it was just another game against Ole Miss, which some now-deleted headlines proclaimed about two weeks ago had reclaimed college baseball dominance in the state of Mississippi. Perhaps Chris Lemonis and his players read those headlines and wondered how many vowels in D-O-M-I-N-A-N-C-E they could buy with a 22-8 record in the rivalry the last eight years.


That record is now 23-8, thanks to a 5-1 win Wednesday night over the Rebels in Pearl, MS, played during exam week on what has traditionally been officially called "Reading Day," but for these two teams became Playing Day for their 6,503 Jackson Metro Area fans that packed into Trustmark Park, the home of the AA Mississippi Braves, and for their Southern League opponent this week, the temporary playing surface of former Bulldog Tanner Allen, who was interviewed during the ESPN2 broadcast.


And the 2024 overall record is now 30-15, as Mississippi State continues to assert itself in front of believers and doubters both. Making Hoover now is not what the goal is any longer, and just getting into the NCAA and going somewhere might not be for much longer. If they have their way, Mississippi State doesn't want to go anywhere, to play, that is. But, that's down the road, with much to be determined the last nine games of conference play.


On this night, despite the final score, Ole Miss was a formidable opponent, leading the first four innings by the slimmest of margins from a home run over the left field wall in a ballpark known for not giving up many. Even when Hunter Hines drove in Joe Powell, and MSU managed to push across the tying run (relieving some long-time Bulldogs of the haunting visions from the last contest in this series at Jackson's old Smith Wills Stadium, that saw an early home run from Ole Miss shortstop Zach Cozart somehow hold up in a 1-0 Rebel win, forever domiciling a mayoral trophy in Oxford that became obsolete when the game moved to its current home in Pearl), the game remained in doubt until State's last turn at bat.


With one out, Connor Hujsak was hit by a pitch, and in what Head Coach Chris Lemonis later called the play of the game, Hujsak went from first to third on a single wild pitch. Having the runner there with just one out put pressure on the Ole Miss pitching and defense, and Logan Kohler's ground ball scored Hujsak with what was the winning, but not last, run. More baserunners ensued as Ole Miss Head Coach Mike Bianco tried a number of pitchers, Bryce Chance got an RBI on a bases-loaded walk, and David Mershon doubled after two were out to plate the final two runs.


Those turned out to be breathing room when Tyson Hardin was called on for the ninth and surrendered a pair of last gasp baserunners. That was when what the old timers might say Hardin bowed his neck and ended the game on two wicked strikeouts, both looking.


Hardin followed winning pitcher Tyler Davis (4-0) whose only non-zero stat line was his three strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings work. And, starting pitcher Pico Kahn, who surrendered only the home run and struck out five in his four innings, was named the Most Valuable Player of the game. Karson Ligon and Cam Schuelke also teamed with Davis to not allow Ole Miss a hit over the four total innings they worked.


Hitting wise, Dakota Jordan had a team-high three hits, along with a pair from Hunter Hines, both players performing in front of many friends and family from their Jackson Metro Area home towns.


Here are post-game comments from Lemonis, Jordan, and Davis (apologies for the background stadium noise)




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