Mississippi State baseball

Fans react to Mississippi State's Jake Mangum catching a baseball hit to centerfield by Stanford during the first inning on Saturday night.

It’s always incredibly nice to get a big helping hand from your friends, particularly when the stakes are high.

As Mississippi State battled Stanford in the opening game of the Starkville Super Regional on Saturday night, Ethan Small was on the mound and starting for the Bulldogs. Small – a first-round Major League Baseball Draft pick by the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this week – hadn’t given up more than 3 runs in an entire start all season. Yet here Small was in the top of the first with the bases loaded watching a deep drive to centerfield off the bat of Stanford’s Andrew Daschbach that, if it cleared the wall, would be four runs on one swing. The Cardinal would’ve been in control.

The ball was going, going…

“My neck almost snapped trying to turn around and watch it,” Small said.

Then it was caught. Mississippi State centerfielder Jake Mangum leaped at the fence and grabbed the ball just as it was about to clear the wall. Stanford was limited to a sacrifice fly. Major damage was averted. Mangum’s catch was just the aid Small needed to complete another solid performance and lead the Bulldogs to a 6-2 victory over the Cardinal that puts Mississippi State just one win away from the College World Series. It could’ve been a much different story if not for Mangum’s incredible play that set the stage for a great night for the Bulldogs.

For more on MSU's victory, see Sunday's Starkville Daily News.

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