STARKVILLE – It was nip and tuck for most of the game, but the No. 3 Mississippi State baseball program clinched its fifth straight trip to the Super Regional round of the NCAA Baseball Championships on Monday (June 7) at Dudy Noble Field with a 6-5 victory over Campbell.
Mississippi State (43-15) advances to its fifth straight NCAA Super Regional, which is tied for the fifth-longest streak in the Super Regional era (Since 1999) and is the longest active streak in college baseball. Overall, Mississippi State will make its 10th appearance in a Super Regional, which is tied for eighth nationally.
The NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team featured five Diamond Dawgs, including Most Valuable Player Kamren James. Pitchers Will Bednar and Houston Harding, along with outfielders Rowdey Jordan and Tanner Allen rounded out the Diamond Dawg collection to mark the 13th time in program history MSU had placed five-or-more student-athletes on the all-regional squad.
Campbell was averaging 13 runs per game entering the day and scored three runs in the first inning on MSU starting pitcher Jackson Fristoe, before Houston Harding (7-2) entered the game and threw five innings to allow the offense to grab the lead for good.
The 10-strikeout performance by Harding was a career-high effort, as he allowed two runs on three hits with a pair of walks. Preston Johnson struck out one in two-thirds of an inning of work and Landon Sims (9) threw the final three innings scoreless to hold a one-run lead for his ninth save of the season. Sims fanned four and
Allen, James, Jordan and Logan Tanner all collected multi-hit games against Campbell, with James and Tanner each hitting home runs. For James, he was 2-for-5 with a team-high three RBIs and his 11th home run of the season. Tanner smacked his team-leading 12th home run of the season as a part of a two-high day. Allen and Jordan each posted their third-straight multi-hit games and Luke Hancock walked twice in the contest.
For Campbell, Spencer Packard drove in three RBIs and collected two hits, as his three-run home run gave Campbell a 3-2 in the first inning. Marcus Skundrich also added a pair of RBIs with a sixth inning single. Cade Boxrucker (0-2) took the loss for the Camels with five runs – three earned – allowed on six hits over 3 1/3 innings of work.
2021 NCAA Starkville Regional All-Tournament Team
C – Hunter Vay (VCU)
1B – Sonny DiChiara (Samford)
2B – Collin Wolf (Campbell)
SS – Zach Neto (Campbell)
3B – Kamren James (MSU)
LF – Jack Schroeder (VCU)
CF – Rowdey Jordan (MSU)
RF – Tanner Allen (MSU)
DH – Tyler McManus (Samford)
P – Will Bednar (MSU)
P – Houston Harding (MSU)
MVP – Kamren James (MSU)
Head coach Chris Lemonis
On Kamren James
CL: I’m so proud of Kamren. He has had a tremendous year. He’s had some real highs, and he’s had some lows. For him to come out and play the way he did, he’s just handled the game with such professionalism all year long. For him to come out and play this way at the end, I know he and [Jake Gautreau] have been working and spending a lot of extra time. You saw it out here, not only offensively, but he also made great plays all weekend. He’s a Mississippi State guy. I don’t think he would have gone anywhere else. His whole family has been to school here. It means a lot to him. It’s just a special day for him and his family. I’m really happy for him.
On reaching his second Super Regional
CL: I feel like we’re in a really good spot. We played really good baseball most of these games. We had a tough first inning today. If you take that out of there, we pitched and defended at a high level. We had a lot of big swings. I like where we are. We have a tough weekend coming up. There’s not an easy Super Regional in the country, and we feel like we have one of the hottest teams in the country coming in here. We’re going to have to have a great week of practice and get ready to have another great weekend. I like where we’re at right now. Our team is in a good spot.
A couple of miscues by Campbell allowed State to take the early lead, as Rowdey Jordan beat out an infield ground ball for a hit and moved to second on a wild pitch. Kamren James doubled to drive in the first run. James then stole third base and scored on a throwing error by the catcher. Mississippi State 2, Campbell 0
Bryce Arnold and Zach Neto each walked in front of Spencer Packard’s one-out, two-run home run. Campbell 3, Mississippi State 2
A couple of two-out hits gave Mississippi State the lead back as Tanner Allen singled, and James followed with a two-run home run. Mississippi State 4, Campbell 3
Brad Cumbest started the inning with a base hit and moved to second on a wild pitch. He advanced to third on an error that extended the inning and came in to score on a wild pitch. Mississippi State 5, Campbell 3
Logan Tanner hit his 12th home run of the season with one out in the inning. Mississippi State 6, Campbell 3
The Camels wouldn’t go quietly, as the first two hitters of the sixth inning singled before Harding recorded the first out. Marcus Skundrich greeted MSU reliever Preston Johnson with a two-RBI single, before Johnson was able to get the final out of the frame and hold the MSU lead.
Mississippi State 6, Campbell 5
No. 7 national seed Mississippi State will host No. 10 national seed Notre Dame the NCAA Super Regional round. The dates and times of those games will be announced on Tuesday, June 8.