Bulldogs beat Washington with walk-off hit

Published 10:52 pm Saturday, June 16, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Luke Alexander’s drive to right field got past Christian Jones in the bottom of the ninth inning, allowing Hunter Stovall to score from second base to give Mississippi State a 1-0 victory over Washington in the College World Series on Saturday night.

It was the Bulldogs’ third walk-off win, and fourth on their final at-bat, in their last eight NCAA Tournament games. Mississippi State (38-27) will play North Carolina (44-18), an 8-6 winner over Oregon State earlier Saturday, in a winners’ bracket game Monday at 6 p.m.

Pac-12 rivals Washington (35-25) and Oregon State (49-11-1) will play an elimination game Monday afternoon.

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Stovall and Elijah MacNamee singled leading off the ninth against Andy Hardy before Alexander hit an 0-2 pitch deep to right. Jones was playing shallow and gave chase, but he couldn’t catch up to the ball as it bounced to the wall. Alexander easily scored, prompting players to pour out of the Mississippi State dugout and celebrate on the grass behind third base.

Starters Ethan Small of the Bulldogs and Joe DeMers of Washington traded zeroes through seven fast-paced innings.

DeMers threw strikes on 19 of his first 22 pitches and held the Bulldogs scoreless even though their leadoff man reached base in four of the first five innings. DeMers was helped by two double plays and some sharp fielding by shortstop Levi Jordan, who made a couple diving stops and came up throwing to get runners at first.

DeMers had retired seven in a row before Jake Mangum doubled with one out in the eighth. Hardy (5-3) relieved and got Rowdey Jordan and Tanner Allen to ground out.

The Huskies had runners in scoring position in the second, third and sixth innings but couldn’t push a run across against Small, who left after the seventh and matched his second-longest outing of the season.

JP France took over and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, and Cole Gordon got one out in the ninth before Bulldogs interim coach Gary Henderson called on Zach Neff (4-3) to come in with a runner on first for a lefty-lefty matchup with slugger Joe Wainhouse. Neff struck out Wainhouse and got AJ Graffanino to ground out to end the inning.

Mississippi State pitchers allowed only six hits to a Washington club that had been batting .332 in the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulldogs have had no shortage of drama in the tournament. Down to their last strike in a regional elimination game, MacNamee hit a walk-off homer to beat Florida State. MacNamee homered again in the bottom of the ninth to beat Vanderiblt in Game 1 of super regionals, and they scored four times in the top of the 11th to beat Vandy in the deciding Game 3.