Mangum breaks record as Bulldogs win series

Jake Mangum walks back to the dugout after MSU strikes out against the University of Alabama Birmingham.

With the crack of a bat and a ball hit to right field, Jake Mangum, a senior centerfielder from Pearl, passed Jeffrey Rea, a player from 2004-2007, in career hits in Mississippi State University history. 

Mangum has reached 339 hits in his MSU career, and hit number 336 gave him the record. Mangum now sits 13 hits away from breaking the Southeastern Conference career hits record. At the beginning of the year, Mangum recapped his path in baseball.

"I was committed to Alabama for a year, de-committed, then committed here. Why? Because this is the pinnacle of college baseball," Mangum said. "It’s Mississippi State, we wear this (M-over-S logo) with the most amount of pride you can possibly wear it with. Every day, we come to the field, no matter what is going on around us, and we’re able to lock in and be in the present."

No. 5 MSU (27-6, 7-5 SEC) stayed locked in and found a way to beat the University of Tennessee (23-10, 4-8 SEC) with a 6-3 victory in 11 innings of play Friday. MSU head coach Chris Lemonis said in a press release his team worked hard to win the game. 

"They just keep fighting. You have to tip your cap to the Tennessee pitching staff. They have one of the best staffs in the country, so you are going to have to compete," Lemonis said. "We let Garrett Stallings off the hook early, but he settled in and jammed for about four or five innings. We were able to run up the pitch count on Garrett Crochet and get to him late."

MSU had all nine Bulldogs make it to the plate, scoring four runs on four hits in the 11th inning of the game as they took game one of the series. However, their efforts on Saturday fell short as they lost 2-1. 

The bottom of the fifth inning in game two went sideways as Peyton Plumlee, a senior pitcher from Olive Branch, asked for a timeout, which was not granted, and rolled the baseball into the Bulldog dugout, resulting in an error. The error scored two runs, both runs being the deciding runs in the game. 

Lemonis said he was proud of Plumlee for having a great start. He threw five and 1/3 innings on a short notice, as JT Ginn was moved to start game three on Sunday.

"Peyton gave us a really good start, except for the one play," Lemonis said. "I thought he was really a game-time decision. He showed up to the park thinking that JT Ginn was going to start, so to do that, he held us in that game. It is hard to win if you only score one run.”

It is hard to win baseball games when a team not only scores just one run, but also has just five hits. Lemonis said his team had to keep showing up to play offensively, and they did so Sunday in game three of the series, winning 7-5. 

MSU had 13 hits in the rubber match and a big part of their offensive success was Tanner Allen, a sophomore infielder from Theodore, Alabama, and Rowdey Jordan, a sophomore outfielder from Auburn, Alabama, who both had three hits a piece.

"We are really good offensively right now, but we can be special at the plate if Tanner gets going," Lemonis said. "Rowdey Jordan also had a couple of big hits, too. Those two left-handed bats are huge for us moving forward."

MSU will host South Alabama at 6:30  p.m. Wednesday, before they host Alabama this weekend for Super Bulldog Weekend.

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