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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Diamond Dawgs secure opening weekend series win over Air Force

Brooks Surber
Junior RHP Nate Dohm started the Diamond Dawgs’ opening weekend of baseball on the mound against Air Force Academy. #25 Dohm gave up one run over four innings.

Mississippi State University baseball kicked off its season in spectacular fashion, securing an impressive 8-4 victory over the Air Force Academy in front of a record crowd.

Highlighted by standout offensive contributions, the Diamond Dawgs showcased their firepower with key hits and timely home runs. Junior outfielder Bryce Chance emerged as a catalyst for the team’s success, delivering a clutch two-run homer in the seventh inning that propelled Mississippi State to victory. Chance’s heroics marked his second consecutive opening day with a home run, solidifying his reputation as a reliable offensive threat for the Bulldogs.

“Our first five innings it felt like we were swinging lead poles,” head coach Chris Lemonis said. “I had to say, ‘hey dudes, relax.’ Everyone is pressing, it’s opening day, and you want to do a lot. We needed a tough game. We needed this to test us.”

On the pitching front, junior Nate Dohm’s solid start set the tone for Mississippi State’s defense and limited Air Force to just one earned run over four innings while tallying four strikeouts.

Game 2 of the series was a fiercely contested pitchers’ duel on a chilly night at Dudy Noble Field. Mississippi State found itself narrowly edged out by the Air Force Academy and fell 3-2 in a hard-fought battle. Despite the tough loss, the Bulldogs’ pitching staff delivered a standout performance.

Leading the charge for Mississippi State was junior Khal Stephen, who tallied a career-high 11 strikeouts in seven innings of work. Stephen’s dominant performance kept the Bulldogs in contention throughout the game and seemed to cement his spot in the rotation.

The Bulldogs’ pitching staff as a whole excelled, combining for a total of 13 strikeouts on the night while limiting the Falcons’ offense to just four hits. Despite the challenging conditions, Mississippi State’s pitchers rose to the occasion and delivered a strong collective effort to keep the game within reach.

While the Bulldogs’ pitching shined, their offense did not. Senior infielder Amani Larry led the charge at the plate and showcased efficiency with a 3-for-5 performance against the Falcons. Additionally, sophomore catcher Ross Highfill made his presence known with a crucial RBI that drove in MSU’s lone scores.

Lemonis later spoke about the team’s lack of offensive production during Saturday’s game.

“It was frustrating,” Lemonis said. “We just couldn’t get the little things all night. You feel like you have some real missed opportunities earlier in the game, then it comes back to something like a late game RBI by the opposing team.”

In a resounding bounce-back performance during Game 3, the Mississippi State Bulldogs clinched their first series victory of the year with a commanding 10-2 win over Air Force.

Sophomore pitcher Jurrangelo Cijntje provided a solid start for Mississippi State, showcasing his talent on the mound with four strong innings of work. Cijntje limited the Air Force offense to just one run while recording eight strikeouts.

Building upon Cijntje’s strong start, the Bulldog bullpen once again proved to be a formidable force, as five pitchers later came in to carry the team to a win via committee.

“Once we got the lead you saw the guys relax a little bit,” Lemonis said. “Baseball is a funny sport. If you try too hard sometimes, you don’t get what you want.”

On the offensive side, junior Hunter Hines and sophomore Dakota Jordan emerged as key contributors, combining for five of the Bulldogs’ 12 hits on the day. The dynamic duo also made their presence felt with three RBI’s.

Mississippi State emerged victorious, taking the series against Air Force. With the momentum from this series win, the Bulldogs now turn their attention to midweek action, where they will face off against Austin Peay at 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

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