The white smoke bellowed out of the Mississippi State University baseball logo on the scoreboard, blending in with the grey clouds behind it. A train whistle then blew, signaling more offensive production for Mississippi State University.
A home run by Marshall Gilbert, senior catcher from Kenosha, Wisconsin, was the reason for celebration. His homer marked the fifth home run of the series, as MSU completed its sweep of the University of Alabama on Sunday with a 13-3 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide.
"I think that is one of our strengths, the depth of our lineup," MSU head coach Chris Lemonis said. "Josh Hatcher has been big for us these last few weeks. We have had some guys really give us some good at bats down there. Rowdey and TA (Tanner Allen) are really coming along and that gives us a tough lineup."
Elijah MacNamee, a senior outfielder from Cypress, Texas, who last year sparked the wild journey to Omaha with a walk off home run against Florida State University and Vanderbilt University, is one player who has drawn a lot of walks to get on base instead of hitting.
There's a certain level of patience that MacNamee has at the plate this year, but MacNamee said that is also the same for the whole team as hitting coach Jake Gautreau has worked diligently with them.
"He gives us the right approach and the right mentality to go out there and understand that we are the best," MacNamee said. "When you have a whole club of guys with the same mentality, it is dangerous. I know people who are like 'oh they are hot right now' but we have worked way too hard to be hot for one little period of time."
After a weekend that saw 40 hits and 28 runs, MSU's offense proved they can produce big numbers in order to win games. This is something they struggled to do against LSU just two weeks prior.
After the Tennessee and Alabama series wins the past two weekends, Lemonis said the LSU series was not a good series for MSU at all. Since then, however, the offense has found its rhythm in getting men on base and across the plate just like they did before the LSU series.
"We have been pretty consistent. We had two down games against LSU that we were not too happy with, but for the most part our offense has come and produced." Lemonis said.
MacNamee said the consistency in productivity is, in large, due to MSU’s patience at the plate and their ability to hit the ball well up and down the order. Which means that any given night a player may have a bad night, but another is right there to step up and contribute.
"Coming into the series now and the season, a lot of teams know what we are capable of hitting so they are trying to work around that," MacNamee said. "We have to be patient and understand what might be coming from other pitchers, but just staying with our same approach and doing what we do."
MacNamee stuck with that approach and hit a two run home run to spark a five run inning in the bottom of the seventh in the second game against Alabama. That was a turning point in the ball game, as it split the game wide open and MSU was able to pour on the runs.
Before MacNamee hit the home run, he walked up to the plate with a new pre-at-bat ritual, writing something on the ground before batting. He said it may have helped his home run get over the wall.
"I write GB, it’s for Grandpa Bruce. My grandfather passed away last week," MacNamee said. "I know he is up there watching over me. I think that home run grew a few feet because of him. I go up there and write GB, and I hit my chest because I know he is in my heart."