/State’s dream season – and Mangum’s remarkable Bulldog career end with Louisville’s walk-off win

State’s dream season – and Mangum’s remarkable Bulldog career end with Louisville’s walk-off win

Mangum gave the final play all he had just like he did on the play before and every play in his incredible Mississippi State career. Mangum’s last Bulldog game was a win for Mississippi State, with a score of Louisville 4. State finishes the season with a 52-15 record and four wins short of a National Championship. What was Mangum thinking as he sat there in his chair? In four years, there were four head coaches. Four regional championships Two Super Regional championships Two trips to Omaha The SEC’s all-time hits record? Several school hitting records? No. No. No. No. No. All of this. Mangum said, with his eyes shining, “I was thinking about where my life was all those four years,” “You don’t want the season ending. Four years ago, I arrived at State with 16 new players. The team said that they would be the first Mississippi State team ever to win a national championship. We were going be the ones that did it. We did everything possible. We gave it all we could.” They did everything possible, except throw strikes when they were most needed. It’s an old baseball saying that “walks will kill” but State was certainly not killed by them. State’s first starter JT Ginn was impressive, pitching his 20th consecutive day. He lasted six strong innings and gave up only three hits, two of which were infield hits. He also walked one. Ginn only allowed one Louisville baserunner to reach second base. He left with a 2-0 lead. State added another run in the seventh, when Mangum (who had singled) scored on Tanner Allen’s single. After six strong innings and only 81 pitches, why lift Ginn? He has a promising career ahead of him, and has been suffering from a stiff arm. Chris Lemonis, State coach: “We went into the game with five innings in mind or 75 pitches. He was more efficient, so we moved to 80 ….As huge as it was, it’s still not larger than JT’s entire career. Jared Liebelt pitched the seventh pitch and walked the first two Cardinals after a 3-0 lead. Both scored later. Cole Gordon, a state closer, pitched the eighth and beat the Cardinals. This was largely due to Mangum’s heads-up play. Mangum had a base hit and threw behind an inexperienced runner who ran second too boldly. He couldn’t catch up in time. Gordon got the two Cardinals who came in to end the threat. The bottom of the ninth came, with State leading 3-2. To open the frame, Gordon walked Louisville’s Jake Snider. Some of the ball calls were protested by State fans. Lemonis and other protestors gathered at the dugout and were warned by both the first base umpire as well as the plate umpire. Gordon, whose eyes were red from tears, replied that the strike zone was the zone. My pitches had to be better. “I can’t put this on anyone else.” Gordon bounded a pick-off throw at first, allowing Snider take second. Louisville’s Danny Oriente singled to left field. Mangum took the ball and turned it over to fire a one-hop pitch to the plate. Although the play looked close, Dustin Skelton, the catcher, dropped the ball while trying to make the quick tag. Snider scored. Mangum could have thrown to second base, and the game-winning run reached second base. Mangum is always aggressive and doesn’t think this way. He said, “I thought that I could throw him out.” “I thought he would throw me out,” Oriente was second. Drew Campbell hit a single to right-center, and Oriente scored easily the winning run. Mangum hustled to get the ball. He would add, “I knew it was impossible, but I was thinking that I was going to get the ball and throw it 500 miles an hour and make it play.” That play is impossible. Mangum was left to watch as the Cardinals, 51-17 rushed the field, and were celebrated, just like the State players so many times this season. Mangum, the face of Mississippi State baseball said, “It didn’t work out, but we fought like hell four years.”_x000D