Mississippi State is headed back to Omaha for a second straight year and will face an SEC West rival in the opening round.
Peyton Plumlee, a senior pitcher, helped the Bulldogs punch their 11th ticket to the College World Series in an 8-1 win over Stanford Sunday night in Game 2 of the Starkville super regional.
It was the Jake Mangum-Elijah MacNamee finale that really got the 11,597 fans at Dudy Noble Field going. Mangum’s 378th career hit — and MacNamee’s long homer — are moments he’ll remember for a long time. In his final at-bat at Dudy Noble, Mangum started the ninth inning with a sharp single that sneaked through the left side of the infield. A few batters later, MacNamee launched a three-run homer deep into the seats beyond left field.
“If you think I can put that into words, you’re crazy,” Mangum said. “You can’t write it any better. My first hit at Dudy Noble was the same as my last, the six-hole, and of course it was the first pitch.”
Plumlee settled down after a first-inning solo home run and only surrendered one more hit over the next 62/3 innings to give No. 3 MSU the pitching performance it needed. Plumlee threw 92 pitches to record his seventh win of the season and lower his ERA to 3.67 in the process. He had six strikeouts and one walk.
Plumlee has arguably been Mississippi State’s second-best starter since the beginning of May as SEC Freshman of the Year JT Ginn battles lingering soreness in his throwing arm. Plumlee’s steadiness on the bump is incredibly important for Mississippi State’s odds in Omaha next week.
MSU (51-13) will face Auburn, which won 14-7 over North Carolina on Monday.
Plumlee (7-4) walked off the field to a standing ovation.
“He really wasn’t great early, and then he found it,” said MSU coach Chris Lemonis. “He found it because he competed. He didn’t just give in. He just kept making pitches and that desire to get back (to Omaha) and experience it was huge for him.”
Plumlee was far from the only hero the Diamond Dogs had. Dustin Skelton caught a solid game behind the plate and threw out three base runners in addition to a 2-for-4 showing at the plate.
Skelton dealt the biggest offensive blow in the top of the third with the game tied 1-1 with the bases loaded and two outs.
He delivered a triple off the wall in right-center field off Cardinal starter Erik Miller that sent the huge crowd into a frenzy.
Mississippi State finished with 11 hits, with Marshall Gilbert going 2 for 4 and Mangum going 2 for 5, each with a pair of singles.
Jared Liebelt and Cole Gordon worked the final 21/3 innings of shutout relief before the Bulldogs dogpiled on the pitcher’s mound after Gordon struck out the game’s final batter.
Stanford managed just four hits on the evening and concluded the year with a 45-14 record.