Hines’ ninth-inning homer gives Bulldogs series win over Vanderbilt

Published 8:23 pm Sunday, April 28, 2024

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mississippi State left Music City whistlin’ victory.

Hunter Hines blasted a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to give the Bulldogs the lead, and Tyson Hardin closed the door in the bottom half to secure an 8-7 win over No. 11 Vanderbilt on Sunday.

Mississippi State (29-15, 12-9 Southeastern Conference) won the last two games against the Commodores (31-13, 11-10) for its second consecutive series win. MSU coach Chris Lemonis said it was a big one for his team’s hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament and potentially hosting a regional.

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“It’s huge for us. We’re building resumé. We’re fighting with so many teams to get pushed up as high as we can,” Lemonis said. “Our goal is always to host. Every weekend you get like this pushes you into a better spot. We want to be a one-seed when it comes down to it. That’s what our goal is. We can do that with what’s ahead of us.”

Mississippi State and Vanderbilt split the first two games of the series, and Sunday brought a wild finale to the series.
Logan Kohler hit a three-run home run in the third inning and David Mershon a solo shot in the fourth to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 that they couldn’t hold on to.

Vanderbilt tied it by scoring six runs in the sixth inning — the last three on a home run by Troy LaNeve — and then took the lead in the seventh on an RBI fielder’s choice by Alan Espinal.

In the top of the ninth, Mershon hit a one-out single and advanced to second on a throwing error. After a strikeout, Hines hit a long home run over the right field wall to put the Bulldogs back in front, 8-7.

“His swings off the left handers were great this weekend,” Lemonis said of Hines. “They haven’t been great all year, but he’s starting to figure it out and play with some confidence. What a big swing. You’re down to your last at-bat and he gets a big bop like that.”

Hardin issued a two-out walk in the ninth, but got Jack Bulger to ground out to end the game and earn his second save of the season.

Karson Ligon pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to earn the win. Mississippi State starter Jurrangelo Cijntje had a career-high 11 strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings, but tired in the sixth and allowed four runs. He ended up with a no-decision.

Mississippi State will come to Pearl on Wednesday to play Ole Miss in the annual Governor’s Cup game at Trustmark Park. First pitch is at 6 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPNU.

After that, the Bulldogs will host Alabama in an SEC series beginning Friday at 6 p.m. in Starkville.