/That’s baseball Oh no, this is like magic

That’s baseball Oh no, this is like magic

It’s hard to find a better way to describe the crazy Mississippi State baseball season. The Diamond Dogs were given up for dead three month ago. They have clawed their way back past reasonableness and are now just one win away from Omaha and college ball’s Valhalla. The Bulldogs have won even when they aren’t playing well this season. They were not at their best in Friday’s walk-off win over Vanderbilt (10-8), in the first Super Regional game. They made four errors that looked more like eight. Five batters were walked by them that looked more like 10. They had to deal with a wild pitch and a passed ball, as well as a foul ball popup. They did all of that in an amazing way. Do you want magic? Elijah MacNamee, a junior rightfielder, hit three home runs throughout the regular season. Three. This is in 52 games. Friday night, he scored his fourth and fifth post-season goals. This was in six games. The margin of victory was his two-run homer in the bottom ninth inning. MacNamee scored two runs, had three hits and ran in five runs. It’s impossible to recount all the bizarre events that led up to the end because of time constraints, especially at night. Let’s skip to the bottom. The Bulldogs came to bat against Zach King, a Vandy left-handed pitcher who had been great. Tanner Allen started the game with a groundball out, but Hunter Stovall came up first with an infield hit. MacNamee was there, but he said he wasn’t thinking of a home run. He said, “I told myself to go up and have a good at-bat and hopefully get a pitch that I could handle.” King got two strikes with fastballs past MacNamee. He stepped out of his box and stared at his bat. He said he wasn’t looking at the bat, but he was actually reading it. He was actually reading his bat. It is almost as insane as State’s rally bananas, but perhaps not as much. He said, “I do it because I want to calm down.” “I read the label.” Yes, it is some of the most boring reading you can do. He did something interesting next. He claimed he had seen all King’s fastballs, even the one that he hit against him in the seventh. MacNamee stated, “I noticed that he wiggled with his glove. He hadn’t done it before.” “I was afraid I would get a breaking pitch,” he said. He deposited the ball over the 375-foot sign in right field. This set off a wild celebration by both State players as well as from the stands, where State fans occupied about half of the 3,600-seat stadium. The Bulldogs’ favorite fruit is the banana, but MacNamee must think the baseball looks like a large, juicy grapefruit. Other State heroes included Cole Gordon, third of four Bulldog pitchers who kept the Commodores scoreless for 3.1 innings. He struck out three and limited Vandy’s hits to one. His pitching was flawless. Jake Mangum was also a great centerfield player. He ran all over the outfield, making catches and driving in the winning run in the eighth. It was just a routine Mangum game. The Vandy coach Tim Corbin was not happy with himself afterward. He said, “It wasn’t the prettiest match; you guys saw it.” “Defensively it was probably our worst game of the year.” Henderson wasn’t too thrilled about the performance of his team. He said, “We weren’t efficient or clean.” They were nevertheless winners. The magic continues. State will send Konnor Pilkington, the ace, to the mound tonight. Henderson stated, “We must play better,” before pausing. “And we most likely will.”