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Baseball: Powell blasts three homers to bail out Mississippi State against North Alabama

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Baseball: Powell blasts three homers to bail out Mississippi State against North Alabama


STARKVILLE — Chris Lemonis isn’t sure what’s gotten into Joe Powell lately, but Mississippi State’s head coach sure hopes his senior catcher keeps doing whatever he’s been doing.

“Maybe he met a cute girl. She’s lucky,” Lemonis said. “I don’t know. I hope he keeps talking to her.”

Powell was out of baseball last season after three years at Cincinnati, and splitting opportunities with Johnny Long behind the plate, had not given the Bulldogs much in the power department. But after connecting on his first home run of the year Sunday at Arkansas, Powell hit three homers off three different pitchers Tuesday night, almost single-handedly saving MSU from a disastrous loss as the Bulldogs defeated North Alabama 8-4.

On a night where Nate Dohm, who opened the season as MSU’s Friday starting pitcher, returned to the mound for the first time in more than a month after battling an arm injury, his backstop stole the show with a solo shot in the third inning, a go-ahead three-run blast in the sixth and a two-run homer in the eighth. Powell also singled in the fourth for a perfect 4-for-4 night.

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“It’s been a long time coming,” Powell said. “I made an adjustment in my swing and (I’ve) been seeing the ball well and swinging at good pitches.”

Dohm threw just two innings, as was the plan all along, retiring all six batters he faced with a pair of strikeouts on only 22 pitches. His fastball was sitting comfortably in the low-to-mid 90s, and Lemonis’ goal is to have him back at close to full strength for the postseason.

“It’s really good to have him back,” Powell said. “He’s looked really good. He’s had some ups and downs, but he’s a tough kid and it’s going to be big having him back down the stretch.”

The Bulldogs (34-18) took the lead in the first inning when Bryce Chance led off with an infield hit, moved up on a wild pitch and a passed ball and scored on David Mershon’s single. Powell’s first homer, a 436-foot blast to the back of the lounge in left-center, gave MSU a 2-0 lead, but the Lions (17-33-1) hung tough. They broke up the shutout in the fourth on Cal Cook’s solo home run off Colby Holcombe, then tied the game on Andrew Knight’s double in the sixth.

With runners at the corners and one out in the Bulldogs’ half of the sixth, Michael O’Brien’s grounder to the right side hit Ethan Pulliam on the foot as he was running toward second base for the second out, forcing Amani Larry back to third. That could have snuffed out the rally, but Powell turned on the first pitch he saw from Carson Howard and launched it to the second level of the lounge in left for a three-run shot, giving MSU the lead for good.

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“I told him a couple weeks ago, I feel like he had finally gotten comfortable,” Lemonis said. “You come here, it’s a lot different from where he came from. He came from a good school, but this is the pinnacle. So (he’s) getting comfortable, relaxed, knowing his role. He’s a hard-working kid. He just shows up every day to hit, work, and you’re seeing that he’s playing pretty free right now.”

North Alabama drew closer in the eighth with two runs against Cam Schuelke, but Powell capped his career night with a 421-foot shot off the batters’ eye in straightaway center field in the bottom of the inning. The Bulldogs’ pitchers allowed eight hits but issued just one walk and recorded 11 strikeouts.

MSU concludes the regular season with a three-game series at home against Missouri starting Thursday evening. The Bulldogs will likely drop a spot or two in the RPI rankings just by playing the Lions, who entered the day at No. 280 out of 305 Division I teams, but Lemonis said he was not worried about whether the game would affect their chances of being selected as a top-16 seed and NCAA regional host.

“They’re going to reward us if we’re one of the best 16 teams to host,” Lemonis said. “We have to prove it on the field. I just felt like it was more important to play than to cancel our game. I know our group’s done enough. We have to play good baseball this weekend, but us playing tonight is not the reason we will host or not host.”

Mississippi State Baseball MSU

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HPD recognized at 2024 Mississippi Public Safety Summit for saving baby’s life

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HPD recognized at 2024 Mississippi Public Safety Summit for saving baby’s life


From Hattiesburg Police Department Public Information Office

FLOWOOD, Miss. (WDAM) – A Hattiesburg police officer was recognized for saving a baby’s life and honored Wednesday at the 2024 Mississippi Public Safety Summit.

Hattiesburg Police Department Lt. Joe Kennedy was one of two law enforcement officers to receive recognition with a “First Responder of the Year Award.”

Kennedy was recognized for his life-saving emergency medical care to a baby at a restaurant in Petal on Jan. 23, 2023.

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Gov. Tate Reeves, Attorney General Lynn Fitch, and Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety Sean Tindell presented this year’s Governor’s Public Safety Awards.

The Public Safety Awards recognize those who were outstanding in their efforts to serve and protect residents across the state.

Kennedy and Flowood Police Department Officer Will Brantley were both designated as First Responder of the Year.

Brantley came to the aid of a choking baby while on shift in his patrol car on Oct. 6, 2023.

“Let me say this as clearly as possible,” Reeves said. “Lt. Kennedy and Officer Brantley are both heroes. Their actions saved the lives of two babies.

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I’m incredibly thankful that God placed good men such as Lt. Kennedy and Officer Brantley in the right place at the right time. Their actions forever changed the lives of those children, as well as their families. That will never be forgotten, and our entire state is grateful to them.”

The winners of the safety awards are selected by Reeves based on candidate nominations by their peers in the public safety realm.

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Ninth-inning magic comes through once again for Mississippi State baseball in Hoover

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Ninth-inning magic comes through once again for Mississippi State baseball in Hoover


The Diamond Dawgs are getting hot, and they might have some magic in them. For the second-straight night, Mississippi State baseball pulled off a thrilling victory in the 9th inning, with the same player coming through when needed.

MSU battled with 4-seed Texas A&M for eight innings, with the game tied at three. With two outs in the top of the 9th, Connor Hujsak drove in a pair of runs to put State up 5-3. Tyler Davis would get three quick outs to end to the game and advance the Bulldogs in the winner’s bracket.

Mississippi State is now 38-19 on the season.

One of the biggest critiques from State fans this season has been the lack of clutch hitting from the Bulldogs. When they’ve been in a key moment, needing a run, and have baserunners on, no one in the lineup has shown the ability to consistently come through.

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That is, until Connor Hujsak stepped up.

Fresh off of emphatically ending his rival’s season, Hujsak once again stepped to the plate with two outs in the 9th inning with the pressure on him to deliver. Consecutive hit by pitches and a throwing error had the bases loaded for State in a 3-3 game. They just needed someone to drive them home.

And Mr. Clutch himself was up for the task. Hujsak drove a single through the middle of the infield, bringing in the winning runs for the Bulldogs.

MSU has found its guy they can rely on in the big moments, and that makes them all the more dangerous in the postseason.

The story of the season for Mississippi State baseball has been the turnaround of their pitching staff. First-year pitching coach Justin Parker has worked wonders with the group, taking them from one of the SEC’s worst a year ago to being amongst the league’s best.

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That showed Wednesday night against Texas A&M’s powerful lineup.

Starter Khal Stephen didn’t have his usual dominant stuff, but he still entered the 6th inning having allowed just one run. A walk and a single put a pair on, and he was pulled for Tyson Hardin. The Aggies managed to get those runs home to tie the game at three, but Hardin limited the damage.

The final three innings of work by MSU’s staff was shutdown. Nate Dohm and Tyler Davis allowed just one combined hit, no walks, and no runs, with Davis getting the save in the bottom of the 9th to secure the win.

The Aggies had just five hits on the night, and their three biggest bats went a combined 1-10. Pitching wins in the postseason, and State has it.

If MSU wanted to host a regional, they needed two wins in Hoover at a minimum. They’ve achieved that, and now, they’ll almost certainly see another weekend at Dudy Noble Field. State’s back into the Top-20 of the RPI and now owns 16 Q1 wins, third most of any team.

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This morning’s update from Baseball America, who has been lower on State as a host, was a positive one. They have MSU as the #15 national seed, hosting Arizona, Georgia Tech, and Nicholls State in Starkville.

The Diamond Dawgs will look to improve their positioning tonight against Vanderbilt. First pitch is set for approximately 8:00 pm CT, and you can watch on the SEC Network.



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Healthy in SEC tournament, Mississippi State baseball shows why it should host NCAA regional

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Healthy in SEC tournament, Mississippi State baseball shows why it should host NCAA regional


HOOVER, Ala. — Coach Chris Lemonis wanted to ensure the selection committee for the NCAA Tournament is aware of Mississippi State baseball’s resume. Through the noise of the grounds crew at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium on Wednesday, Lemonis made sure his pitch was heard.

Fresh off a 5-3 win against No. 4 seed Texas A&M in the second round of the SEC tournament, Lemonis listed the reasons he thinks there should be no debate about Mississippi State (38-19) hosting an NCAA regional at Dudy Noble Field.

“You’ve got to do your work, and it lays out for them,” Lemonis said. “Our kids have earned it. We deserve to have one in Starkville.”

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The Bulldogs won 17 conference games in the regular season – which doesn’t include a neutral site midweek win against rival Ole Miss. As the No. 5 seed in the SEC tournament, MSU has added two more victories against conference foes with a win over No. 12 seed Ole Miss on Tuesday before defeating Texas A&M.

Mississippi State has a top 20 RPI – a metric the committee uses to help form the field of 64. To get to No. 19 in those rankings, the Bulldogs defeated the Aggies (44-12) who own the nation’s top rating in the metric. Add the fact that the SEC could send most of its teams to the NCAA tournament, Lemonis feels the argument for State to host is solid.

“If you have 11 teams in and you finish fifth in the league, how are you not hosting?” Lemonis said. “That’s a pretty easy statement.”

Mississippi State stars are struggling, but Connor Hujsak is back

Lemonis felt Mississippi State’s case was cemented even before its arrival in Hoover. However, aware that they don’t want to give the committee a choice, his players have aimed to prove their case.

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Behind consecutive nights of ninth-inning heroics from outfielder Connor Hujsak, the Bulldogs have advanced to the winner’s bracket where they’ll face No. 8 seed Vanderbilt (37-20) on Thursday (8 p.m., SEC Network).

Hujsak delivered a two-run, walk-off home run against the Rebels before providing a two-run single to break a tie in the ninth inning Wednesday.

“It’s like the Connor Hujsak Invitational hosted by the SEC,” Lemonis joked.

Mississippi State was without Hujsak in its final seven regular season games. In his absence, MSU lost two of three games at Arkansas before winning a series against Missouri but failing to sweep.

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With him back, there’s potential for damage even amid slumps from first baseman Hunter Hines and outfielder Dakota Jordan.

HOT CORNER: Inside Logan Kohler’s rise with Mississippi State baseball from Bobby Witt Jr to power surge

Nate Dohm adds depth to Mississippi State pitching

Right-handed pitcher Nate Dohm has shown his absence due to an arm injury should also be taken into account by the committee.

He opened the season as Mississippi State’s top starter, allowing only four runs across 24 innings in his first four starts. However, he only pitched a third of an inning between March 8 and May 14.

The depth of Lemonis’ rotation was tested, and the Bulldogs went through most of conference play without their presumed ace. He returned for a May 14 start against North Alabama in which he threw two scoreless innings. He came out of the bullpen in his return to conference play with one shutout inning against Missouri on May 18.

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On Wednesday, after Texas A&M rallied for two runs in the sixth to tie the game, Dohm delivered two shutout innings to tame one of the country’s most potent lineups.

“We were missing a piece or two here and there,” Tyler Davis said after throwing a scoreless ninth inning Wednesday. “He’s coming in, filling that void and really giving us a chance to go deep in this thing.”

Stefan Krajisnik is the Mississippi State beat writer for the Clarion Ledger. Contact him at skrajisnik@gannett.com or follow him on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter, @skrajisnik3.





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