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MSU baseball team walks off Vanderbilt in Super Regional opener

 

Elijah MacNamee has hit five home runs in the NCAA tournament.

Elijah MacNamee has hit five home runs in the NCAA tournament. Photo by: Kelly Donoho/Mississippi State Athletic Media Relations

 

Brett Hudson

 

 

NASHVILLE -- Elijah MacNamee's home run trots are getting slower these days. He's becoming more used to this event. 

 

For the second time in a week, Mississippi State's right fielder hit a walkoff home run in a NCAA tournament game. The second one, a two-run shot in the ninth inning of Friday's 10-8 win over Vanderbilt, gives MSU a win in the Nashville Super Regional and just one game away from a trip to the College World Series. MSU can secure that trip either 8:30 p.m. Saturday or 5 p.m. Sunday. 

 

Once again, MacNamee was forced to adapt. 

 

The swing that ended the game was MacNamee's home run of the game. The first one was a three-run home run to a similar part off of a, "disgusting," curveball when MacNamee was waiting for fastball. Just like he did against Florida State, MacNamee ended the game by hitting a changeup when he thought a fastball would come. His only tip was the pitcher, Zach King, shaking his glove, a move MacNamee had not seen and one he assumed meant offspeed was coming. 

 

Reacting to offspeed as such requires a patience MacNamee wasn't naturally gifted with, one he had to find ways to create as his playing time increased midseason. 

 

"When I look at the bat, I look at the emblem and it says Easton. I read it over and over again until everything is out of my mind and I'm just thinking of that, so I can regroup myself, get back in and focus," MacNamee said. 

 

MacNamee's third-inning long ball jumped the Bulldogs out to a 7-2 lead. The home run came after RBI singles from first baseman Tanner Allen and second baseman Hunter Stovall. 

 

The cushion afforded MSU by MacNamee's first shot home run lasted less than two innings, as Vanderbilt put up its own five-run half inning in the fifth. It was a rare postseason down moment for catcher Dustin Skelton, as Vanderbilt scored five runs with a throwing error and a passed ball playing a role. 

 

Relief pitcher Cole Gordon was the steadying force, throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings with one hit allowed. It was his second consecutive such outing, after throwing six innings in relief in a win over Oklahoma in the Tallahassee Regional. 

 

Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson

 

 

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