STARKVILLE – It was Yogi Berra that said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again,” and for the No. 6 national seed Mississippi State baseball program the 2019 College World Series started much like the 2018 College World Series, with a walk-off win.
Trailing by three runs entering the bottom of the ninth inning, State mounted a four-run rally, which was topped off by an RBI single from senior Marshall Gilbert with two outs to seal Mississippi State’s (52-13) 28th come-from-behind win of the season.
For the fifth time in six NCAA postseason games, State fell behind early as Edouard Julien hit a two-run home run in the second inning and plated a run with a single in the fourth for Auburn (38-27). MSU got a run back in the sixth, before the Tigers added an unearned run in the eighth to move their lead to 4-1.
The ninth inning saw graduate student Cole Gordon (5-0) throw a scoreless top of the inning with three strikeouts, before the Diamond Dawgs would score four runs on four hits and benefit from one Auburn error. Seniors Jake Mangum and Elijah MacNameeeach collected doubles, with MacNamee’s scoring the first run. Sophomore Justin Foscue grounded out to score the second run of the frame, before junior Dustin Skelton reached on a throwing error that allowed the game-tying-run to score. Three batters later, Gilbert sent the Maroon and White faithful home happy.
In his 18th start of the season, redshirt-junior Ethan Small threw five innings and allowed three runs on three hits. He fanned eight batters to move his season total to 176, surpassing Eric DuBose (174; 1996) for the top spot on the single-season strikeout charts at Mississippi State and moving him into the top five all-time on the Southeastern Conference’s single-season list.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis
On how the game played out
“I thought Auburn did a great job, and they had some big two-out hits. Edouard Julien, that’s one of the farthest home runs in this ballpark, and nobody has hit that pitch off Ethan [Small] all year. I give our guys credit, we fought to the last out, just kept competing and it’s something we’ve talked about all year. It’s a little bit of a frustrating night because we had a couple opportunities to drive in some runs and we didn’t, but at the very end, just the grit of our ballclub played out and we were able to put some balls in play.”
Walk-off Dawgs – For the second-straight College World Series opener, Mississippi State walked it off, this time rallying from a three-run deficit to earn the win. MSU walked off Washington in. the CWS opener in 2018, before taking the victory over Auburn to start the 2019 event.
Marshall Gilbert – Had just one hit, but it produced the game winning RBI with the bases loaded in the ninth inning.
Ethan Small – Struck out eight to move his season total to 176 and set the Mississippi State single-season strikeout record, surpassing Eric DuBose (174; 1996). Worked five innings and allowed three runs on three hits with three walks.
Jake Mangum – Had a pair of hits, including the double in the ninth inning that started the rally. His double was the 72nd of his career and broke a tie with Travis Chapman (71; 1997-2000) atop the MSU career charts.
Jordan Westburg – Moved his reached base streak to 18 games with a first-inning single.
Dustin Skelton – Posted his 17th multi-hit game of the season with two hits on the night. Also added a walk and scored the game-winning run.
Tanner Allen – Moved his hitting streak to 12 games and reached base to 18 games with a 1-for-3 night at the plate. Walked twice and scored one run.
Jack Owen – Held the Diamond Dawg offense to just one run on six hits in five innings of work. Started the sixth inning and allowed a single and a walk, before leaving the game.
Edouard Julien – Hit a second-inning two-run home run and drove in the third run of the game with an RBI single.
After starting pitcher Ethan Small struck out the first five batters of the game, Rankin Woley singled and Edouard Julien homered to give Auburn the early lead.
Auburn 2, Mississippi State 0
Julien plated the third run of the game, as well, with an RBI single following a pair of two-out walks. A leadoff walk was erased on a double play, before Steven Williams and Woley each worked two-out free passes. Julien followed with a two-out single to center field to make it a three-run Auburn lead.
Auburn 3, Mississippi State 0
The Diamond Dawgs forced Auburn to use three different pitchers in the inning but could muster just one run. Justin Foscue singled and Dustin Skelton walked to start the inning, before the lead runner was put out on a fielder’s choice. Gunner Halter followed with a base hit to score the lone run of the frame, as MSU would leave three runners on base.
Auburn 3, Mississippi State 1
A pair of errors would result in a run for Auburn in the frame. After an error allowed the leadoff runner to reach, reliever Jared Liebeltwould get a double play for the first two outs of his second inning of work. After hitting Will Holland, Williams singled to right-center field, with Holland rounding third a little too far. The throw from Foscue to third base short hopped Marshall Gilbert and squirted away to allow Holland to score.
Auburn 4, Mississippi State 1
Jake Mangum started the inning with a double to right field and Tanner Allen followed a strikeout with a base on balls. Elijah MacNamee followed with a double to score the first run of the inning, before a Foscue ground out made it a 4-3 game with two outs. An Auburn throwing error on a Josh Hatcher ground ball allowed the game-tying run to score, before Rowdey Jordan was intentionally walked to load the bases. Gilbert chopped a ball up the middle that caromed off of pitcher Tanner Burns’ glove and and neither middle infielder could corral the ball, allowing Skelton to score for MSU’s third walk-off win of the season.
Mississippi State 5, Auburn 4
Mississippi State will face off with No. 2 national seed Vanderbilt on Tuesday, June 18 at 6 p.m. on ESPN. The winner of that game will play the winner’s bracket final on Friday, June 21 at 6 p.m. CT, while the loser will face either Louisville or Auburn at 6 p.m. CT on Thursday, June 20 in an elimination game.
For complete information on the College World Series visit HailState.com/CWS.