22 May

instant classic

Two names will endure in the lore of the Mississippi State-Ole Miss rivalry after the instant classic the teams staged late Tuesday in the SEC Tournament. Hujsak and Auger. Connor Hujsak won it for the Bulldogs 2-1 with a two-out, ninth-inning, two-run walk-off missile over the left-field fence at a packed Hoover Met, salvaging a brilliant pitching performance by the unsung Brooks Auger, who threw eight innings, yielded one run and punched out 13 batters. MSU, virtually assured of hosting an NCAA regional, advances to a showdown today with Texas A&M in the next phase of the tournament. “It’s huge,” State coach Chris Lemonis said in a postgame presser. “It’s huge for (our) resume, but it’s huge for us. We need to play postseason baseball. These guys haven’t played in the postseason. For us to be in this environment and play in what feels like a regional, our guys need to enjoy it and be a part of it.” For Ole Miss, a wonky season ended with a gut punch from its rival. Riley Maddox, former Jackson Prep star, worked seven-plus shutout innings for the Rebels, who got their lone run on a fifth-inning homer by Will Furniss that bounced out of the glove of Hujsak and over the center-field wall. It went to the ninth. Liam Doyle, after retiring Dakota Jordan (strikeout) and Hunter Hines (great play by Furniss at first base) with the tying run on base, was one out away from saving it for the Rebels. Then Hujsak — making his return to the lineup after a lingering back injury — stepped up and made a name for himself. P.S. Southern Miss begins defense of its Sun Belt Conference Tournament title today against Coastal Carolina at Montgomery, Ala. … In Atlanta, Jackson State opens SWAC Tournament play today against Texas Southern. … East Central Community College received one of the two at-large bids to the NJCAA Division II World Series in Enid, Okla., and is seeded third in the event that starts Saturday. ECCC, ranked No. 1 in the latest poll, lost in the Region 23 Tournament won by LSU-Eunice, the top seed in the World Series. ECCC is in the World Series for the second straight year.

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