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How Mississippi State's best shined in CWS-clinching win over Notre Dame

Tyler Horka
Jackson Clarion-Ledger
Mississippi State's Logan Tanner, center, and Tanner Allen, right, celebrate after Allen's second-inning home run in Monday's 11-7 win over Notre Dame in the third game of the Starkville Super Regional.

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games.

The saying is cliché, but it's true. And that's just what Mississippi State's baseball team displayed against Notre Dame on Monday night with a trip to Omaha on the line. 

The Bulldogs clinched a spot in the College World Series for the third straight postseason with an 11-7 victory over Notre Dame in Game 3 of the NCAA Starkville Super Regional. They'll face the No. 2 Texas Longhorns on Sunday at 6 p.m.

In likely their last game ever at Dudy Noble field, senior outfielders Rowdey Jordan and Tanner Allen each made diving catches to end innings. Allen hit a home run. They both scored twice. 

Second-year freshman Logan Tanner, MSU's up-and-coming slugger of the future, hit his team-leading 14th home run of the season with two outs in the second. It stretched State's lead to 7-1. 

"It felt like it was a really good swing as soon as I took it, and it went out," Tanner said. "I kind of blacked out after that." 

With senior lefty Houston Harding pitching well and second-year freshman Landon Sims available for extended relief, a four-run cushion was a rather healthy margin. But not healthy enough against a Notre Dame batting order that wasn't going to go down without swinging. 

Mississippi State pitcher Landon Sims shouts with joy as he hugs teammate Kamren James after closing out a win over Notre Dame in Monday's 11-7 super regional victory. The win sent the Bulldogs to the College World Series; they will play Texas on Sunday.

The Fighting Irish scored three times in the fifth to pull within 10-5. Mississippi State's best hitters, meanwhile, didn't wait that long in the series to get going. 

Jordan and Allen's heroics were well-documented. They drove in seven runs in the three games. Bulldogs coach Chris Lemonis knew he could expect production from them with the season at stake. 

"When we spoke about it in our office (Monday), like, 'There was no way Tanner and Rowdey are going out with an 'L' in this ballpark,'" Lemonis said. "I like the odds with them on our team playing for what we were playing for."

Three-hole hitter and second-year freshman shortstop Kamren James had three RBIs in the series, including a big one in Game 3 that kept the second-inning rally going. His run-producing hit preceded Tanner's three-run shot. 

Tanner was one of three hitters hitting after the cleanup spot in the lineup who had a multi-hit game. Third-year freshman left fielder Brad Cumbest and true freshman designated hitter Kellum Clark had back-to-back RBI doubles in the fourth. 

"I think we were just more disciplined today, laying off pitches out of the zone, trying to hit our pitch instead of hitting their pitch," Tanner said.

Even Mississippi State's pitchers made game-winning plays. Harding and Sims each pitched four innings of two-run ball. They had four strikeouts apiece. Harding stranded two Notre Dame runners in his last inning.

Sims allowed the first two batters of the top of the ninth to reach before getting a strikeout and a game-ending double play. 

"Any out right there was big, but that double play was huge," Sims said. "It sent us on our way to Omaha." 

From the batter's box to the pitcher's mound, Mississippi State (45-16) pushed all the right buttons. As a result, the Bulldogs are going back to the College World Series for the 12th time in program history again. 

College World Series

Texas vs. Mississippi State, 6 p.m. Sunday, ESPN2, 104.9