Bulldogs earn walk-off win over Rebels

Published 7:56 pm Sunday, April 8, 2018

STARKVILLE — Mississippi State did something it hadn’t achieved this season, by making Ole Miss do something it hadn’t done either.

Luke Alexander belted a two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning Sunday to give the Bulldogs a 7-5 victory over their archrival.

The Bulldogs (17-16, 4-8 Southeastern Conference) took two out of three from Ole Miss (27-6, 7-5) to win their first SEC series of the season. Ole Miss, meanwhile, lost its first conference series but remained in first place in the Western Division.

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Mississippi State won its annual series against Ole Miss for the third straight year. The Bulldogs have won nine of the last 11 meetings between the teams. They’ll play again April 24 at Trustmark Park in Pearl, in the annual Governor’s Cup game.

“It was a great series win for us,” Mississippi State coach Gary Henderson said. “The kids kept battling. Finding a way to tie the game in the ninth inning was huge for this team. There was a lot of good defense, too. We had some great fan support this weekend. I am happy that it worked out and we were able to get this victory.”

Sunday’s series finale was a wild affair in which the teams traded the lead seven times.
Ole Miss scored twice in the top of the ninth, on sacrifice flies by Will Golsan and Tyler Keenan, to take a 5-4 lead. In the bottom of the ninth, Mississippi State rallied to tie it with Jake Mangum’s RBI single. Mangum’s hit scored Tanner Poole, who had hit a one-out double.

Neither team scored in the 10th, and in the bottom of the 11th the Bulldogs went to work. Mangum singled again — his fifth hit of the game — with two outs. Alexander then hit a 2-0 pitch over the wall in left-center field to give the Bulldogs the victory.

Alexander finished with three RBIs, but the home run was his only hit of the game.

Mangum was 5-for-5 with one RBI and four runs scored, and Poole had two hits and scored twice. He went 8-for-15 in the series, and has now reached base in 10 consecutive games. He also had two stolen bases on Sunday.

Keenan hit a solo home run in the fifth inning for Ole Miss and finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Thomas Dillard, Ryan Olenek and Cole Zabowski had three hits apiece.

Ole Miss hit into three double plays in the game.

Blake Smith (3-0) pitched three scoreless innings of relief to get the win for Mississippi State.