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

Tyler Horka
Mississippi Clarion Ledger

STARKVILLE — Big-time players make big-time plays.

The saying is cliche, but it's true. And that's just what the Bulldogs' baseball team did against Notre Dame on Monday with a trip to Omaha on the line. 

Mississippi State clinched a spot in the College World Series for the third straight postseason with a 11-7 victory over Notre Dame in Game 3 of the NCAA Tournament Starkville Super Regional. 

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

They both scored twice. 

BIG WIN:Mississippi State baseball beats Notre Dame, punches College World Series ticket

HIGHLIGHTS:Mississippi State vs. Notre Dame baseball video highlights in NCAA Super Regionals Game 3

Second-year freshman Logan Tanner, MSU's slugger of the future, hit his team-leading 14th home run 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." 

Mississippi State's Logan Tanner (19) celebrates with teammate Tanner Allen after hitting a second-inning three-run home run against Notre Dame during an NCAA college baseball super regional game, Monday, June 14, 2021, in Starkville, Miss.

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. 

"It is a really good offense over there, so you never feel comfortable," MSU coach Chris Lemonis said. 

The Fighting Irish fought, all right. They scored three times in the fifth to make it 10-5. Senior slugger Niko Kavadas' first RBI of the series came when he hit a two-run home run in the seventh to pull within 11-7.

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. 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 hitting after the cleanup spot 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. Kavadas was the one who grounded into it, too. That's called bouncing back and getting revenge at the best time possible. 

"I wasn't going to throw him another fastball," Sims said. "I had really good command of my slider there in the last two innings. I knew if I located it well, I had a chance for him to roll over it. Any out right there was big, but that double play was huge. It sent us on our way to Omaha." 

From the batter's box to the pitcher's mound, Mississippi State 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. 

Contact Tyler Horka at Follow @tbhorka on Twitter. To read more of Tyler's work, subscribe to the Clarion Ledger today!