No. 7 Mississippi State baseball beats No. 10 Texas on opening day
ARLINGTON, Texas – Welcome back, baseball.
With maroon-clad Mississippi State fans spaced out in the seats down the third-base line and their burnt-orange Texas counterparts occupying the green chairbacks down first, two of college baseball’s most storied programs started their seasons against each other at Globe Life Field on Saturday.
The Bulldogs and Longhorns battled severe winter storms that left their respective hometowns covered in ice and snow for most of the week, but both still made it to Arlington – which was also heavily affected by the storms – for the State Farm College Baseball Showdown.
While both fan bases showed up, it seemed as if only one of the teams did. No. 7 Mississippi State dismantled No. 10 Texas 8-3 to beat the Longhorns in the first game the programs have played since Texas beat Mississippi State in the 1985 College World Series.
"We hadn't played in front of fans since (March) of last year," MSU coach Chris Lemonis said. "So it was an exciting experience for our players' families getting to see them play."
If there was any distaste left in Mississippi State’s mouth from the defeat 36 years ago, at least some of it was washed away by the Bulldogs’ opening day performance.
Starting pitcher Christian MacLeod only allowed one run in four innings, and right-handed reliever Landon Sims retired all 12 batters he faced, striking out 10.
Yes. Four-straight innings of 1-2-3 baseball from Sims. The sophomore was electric with his fastball and flat-out unhittable with his slider, which he consistently worked into the upper 80s and even the low 90s at times.
"Seeing Christian have success with his fastball in the upper part of the zone, I was taking not of that when I was in the bullpen," Sims said. "Knowing that If I threw my fastballs up in the zone I could get some swings and misses. It ended up working out that way."
Mississippi State produced runs from all over the batting order, meanwhile. The scoring started in the second with RBI singles from junior third baseman Landon Jordan and sophomore left fielder Drew McGowan.
Junior designated hitter Luke Hancock sent a solo shot to right in the fourth. Senior center fielder Rowdey Jordan scored on an error in the same frame, and Hancock added another RBI single in the fifth to push MSU's lead to 5-0.
Hancock did his damage out of the six hole. Four of MSU's six RBI came from the No. 6 six or later hitter. That trend changed when the Bulldogs needed some insurance runs.
Leadoff hitter Rowdey Jordan knocked in a run on a fielder's choice in the sixth. He hit a solo shot to left in the eighth. Senior first baseman Josh Hatcher, batting clean up, scored senior left fielder Tanner Allen from first on a roped double down the first base line to make it 8-1.
"We knew that the top of the lineup was going to start hitting," Hancock said. "They always do. They're some of the best hitters in the country. We knew if we could get a couple hits here and there they would start rolling today, and that's what happened today."
Senior Riley Self took the mound in the ninth with that seven-run lead. He managed to get only one out and gave up a pair of runs in the process. Senior Spencer Price took over with runners on first and second and one out. He got the final batter to fly out to second to seal a victory for Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs play No. 11 TCU at 11 a.m. Sunday.
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How it happened
Inning 9: Mississippi State went down in order. Senior Riley Self replaced Sims on the mound. He struggled to get outs, managing only one while giving up two runs. Senior Spencer Price relieved him and immediately got a fly out to right.
Inning 8: Rowdey Jordan homered to deep left field to put Mississippi State ahead 7-1. Allen singled, and Hatcher drove him in from first on a roped double down the first base line. The Bulldogs led 8-1. Sims had another 1-2-3 inning. He sat down 12 in a row with 10 strikeouts.
Inning 7: A pair of singles from Tanner and Jancock put runners on the corners with one out, but two fly outs ended the Mississippi State threat. Sims struck out the side for the second time.
Inning 6: Landon Jordan led off with a walk. McGowan singled to put runners on the corners with no outs. Rowdey Jordan grounded to first. McGowan was out at first one a fielder's choice, and Jordan was out at first after a base-running blunder. Landon Jordan scored, however, to put Mississippi State ahead 6-1. Sims worked a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the frame with two more strikeouts.
Hancock continued his dominant start by looping an RBI single into centerfield to give the Bulldogs a 5-0 lead. Hancock is 2-for-2 with a home run, two RBI and a walk. Texas broke MacLeod's shutout with a leadoff solo home run and followed that with three straight hits to load the bases with no outs and chase MacLeod from the game. Sophomore Landon Sims relieved him and struck out the side to get out of the jam.
Luke Hancock supplied Mississippi State's first home run of the season, ripping a line drive inches over the right field fence to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead. A throwing error on a two-out grounder to shortstop allowed another Mississippi State run to score, expanding the lead to 4-0. MacLeod strung together another three-up, three-down frame in the bottom half. He's thrown 61 pitches through four.
Mississippi State couldn't add on more runs as Madden bounced back with a 1-2-3 inning against the heart of the Bulldogs' order. MacLeod continued to cruise with two more strikeouts, upping his total to six through three shutout innings.
Mississippi State sparked a two-out rally. The Bulldogs followed a two-out walk with three-straight singles into centerfield by the last three hitters in the lineup to take a 2-0 lead in the second. MacLeod added two more strikeouts in the bottom half for the shutdown inning to protect the Bulldogs' lead.
Texas ace Ty Madden struck out all three Mississippi State batters he faced in the top half of the first, including freezing Tanner Allen with a breaking ball for the third out. Christian MacLeod allowed one base runner on a bunt single in the bottom half but he erased the threat with two strikeouts.
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or email@example.com. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.