TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— Mississippi State jumped out to a big lead early, but Samford stormed back to tie the game, but eventually fell, 9-8 in an elimination game at the NCAA Tallahassee Regional Sunday afternoon at Dick Howser Stadium.
With the loss, Samford ends its season with a record of 37-26. Mississippi State improves to 33-26, and MSU advances to the championship round of the regional where the Bulldogs will take on Oklahoma. Samford reached the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in program history, recording a 7-6 win over seventh-ranked Florida State Friday evening, before falling to Oklahoma Saturday night, setting up Sunday's elimination game with Mississippi State.
In the loss, Samford was led at the plate by Anthony Mulrine, going 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBI. Connor Burns was 2-for-5 with an RBI. Brooks Carlson also homered for Samford, going 1-for-4 with one RBI.
Wyatt Burns (5-4) pitched 3.0 innings in relief, giving up four runs on five hits to take the loss on the mound for Samford. Erin Baldwin, Josh Rich and Stephen Jones also saw time on the mound for Samford.
Mississippi State was led offensively by Jake Mangum and Elijah MacNamee, who both homered in a three-run first inning. Tanner Allen went 3-for-4 with an RBI for MSU. Luke Alexander went 2-for-4 with two RBI, while Rowdey Jordan went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Jacob Billingsley (5-3) pitched 7.0 innings, giving up seven runs on seven hits to earn the win for MSU. J.P. France tossed the final 1.1 innings to pick up his second save of the season.
Mississippi State jumped out to an early lead with three runs in the top of the first inning. Mangum led the game off with a home run to left field. MacNamee later hit a two-run homer to right field for a 3-0 Mississippi State advantage.
MSU added a run in the second inning and another in the third to push its lead to 5-0. Jordan doubled to drive in Hunter Vansau for the run in the top of the second inning. In the third inning, MacNamee scored on a sacrifice fly by Alexander for a five-run Mississippi State lead.
Samford came back with five runs in the bottom of the third inning to knot the score at 5-5. Taylor Garris scored the first run of the inning on a balk. Ayrton Schafer then doubled down the left-field line to drive in Troy Dixon and Branden Fryman. Carlson later scored from third base on a ground out by Connor Burns to close to within one run. The final run of the inning was scored when Mulrine singled down the left-field line to drive in Schafer with the game-tying run.
Mississippi State re-took the lead with three runs in the top of the seventh inning. Hunter Stovall singled to left field to drive in Allen and Jordan for the first two runs in the inning. Alexander later singled to drive in Stovall for an 8-5 Mississippi State lead.
Samford added a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to cut the MSU lead to 8-6. Carlson hit a solo home run to right field for the Bulldogs' sixth run of the contest.
Mississippi State added to its lead with a run in the top of the eighth inning. Allen doubled down the right-field line to drive in Jordan for a 9-6 MSU lead.
Samford came back with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to cut the Mississippi State lead to 9-8. Mulrine hit a solo home run for the first run of the inning. Dixon later singled to center field to drive in Max Pinto to close to within one run.
SAMFORD POSTGAME NOTES
· Samford is now 3-4 all-time in NCAA Regional games, and the Bulldogs are 2-1 in postseason games against Mississippi State.
· Brooks Carlson's home run in the seventh inning was his team-leading 10th of the season.
· Anthony Mulrine's home run in the eighth inning was his eighth of the season.
· Samford's 37 wins this season are tied with the 2011 team for the second most in program history.