The comebacks continue to pile up for Mississippi State baseball. MSU’s improbable four-run ninth inning rally in its 2019 College World Series opener against Auburn was its 28th come-from-behind win of the year.

Twenty-eight. That’s the most in Division I baseball, three better than Texas Tech. It’s more than 149 DI schools had in total wins this year. Three more than the MLB’s Miami Marlins’ win total through their first 70 games.

Mississippi State is 52-13 heading into its second game in the College World Series Wednesday afternoon against Vanderbilt. Nearly 54 percent of the Bulldogs’ 2019 wins have come in come-from-behind fashion.

“There’s never a point where somebody is not locked in or somebody has not bought into what we’ve got going on,” said Marshall Gilbert, the latest hero who had the walk-off hit against Auburn.

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An important note: all comeback wins are not created equal. Quite a few were early deficits that quickly turned into runaway wins. Others required some late-inning magic, like Sunday night’s stunner.

Before we dive into each game, here are some of the key figures from our research:

  • Only two of Mississippi State’s comeback wins came in walk-off fashion. The first came in a 17-inning classic in the SEC tournament against LSU. The second was Sunday’s win over Auburn in the College World Series.
  • 10 times this season, Mississippi State didn’t take the lead for good until the seventh inning or later. Two came in extras (11th and 17th innings). Sunday’s win was the only time MSU won while trailing in the ninth.
  • Remarkably, the Bulldogs’ average margin of victory in comeback wins is 5.8 runs. Seven ended up being double-digit differences — including two 17-run wins. Eight finished as one-run wins.
  • Twenty-three of Mississippi State’s 28 comeback wins came after an opponent scored first. MSU boasts a .719 winning percentage in such games (23-9).
  • The majority of Mississippi State’s comebacks came from just one run down (13 of 28). MSU’s biggest comeback was from seven runs down (done twice). Here’s a full breakdown by largest deficit:
Comebacks by largest single-game deficit:
1 run 2 runs 3 runs 4 runs 5 runs 6 runs 7 runs
13 8 3 2 0 0 2

Now, let’s rewind the tape and dissect each and every comeback win by the Bulldogs in 2019.

Feb. 15 vs. Youngstown State

Final score: Won 14-3
Largest deficit: Trailed 3-0, bottom sixth

HOW IT HAPPENED: What better way to open the new Dudy Noble Field than with the first of many comeback wins? Youngstown State got to ace Ethan Small early on opening day, scratching across two in the fourth and another in the sixth off of reliever Peyton Plumlee to take a 3-0 lead. 

But then the Bulldogs awoke. They tied it in the bottom half of the sixth with an RBI double from Jordan Westburg and a two-run homer from Tanner Allen. In the eighth, MSU pushed across 11 runs on nine hits to put the game away. 

THE HERO: It’s hard to pick just one when there’s 14 runs scored in the final three turns at bat. But Allen’s two-run homer in the sixth evened things up and paved way for the offensive explosion two innings later. 

Feb. 16 vs. Youngstown State

Final score: Won 14-2
Largest deficit: Trailed 2-0, bottom first

HOW IT HAPPENED: YSU got the jump on Mississippi State again for the second straight day, scoring two in the top of the first. It was all Bulldogs after that. MSU took the lead with three in the bottom of the first and hung a crooked number each of the following three frames as well. Another come-from-behind win with very little drama.

THE HERO: Allen continued his hot start to the season with a 2-for-4, six-RBI performance. He had a three-run homer in the second and a bases-clearing double with bases loaded in the third. 

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Feb. 20 vs. UAB

Final score: Won 3-2
Largest deficit: Trailed 2-0, bottom seventh

HOW IT HAPPENED: The Bulldogs were getting no-hit through six innings before a Justin Foscue single in the seventh. He’d eventually come around to score on a Dustin Skelton single, and senior Jake Mangum had the go-ahead two-RBI knock later in the inning. Three runs on three hits for the game would be all MSU needed to escape.

THE HERO: Mangum’s clutch hit was the deciding blow. Cole Gordon also deserved some credit, striking out four over the final two frames to earn the save.

March 1 vs. Sam Houston State

Final score: Won 5-4
Largest deficit: Trailed 4-2, bottom seventh

HOW IT HAPPENED: Sam Houston State scored two apiece in the sixth and seventh to take a 4-2 lead. Mississippi State then responded with two of its own in the bottom of the frame to even things out. The go-ahead run scored an inning later on a SHSU error on a Skelton grounder up the middle. Foscue raced home from second after his leadoff double to start the eighth.

THE HERO: Foscue finished with three hits, an RBI and scored the game-winning run. 

March 10 vs. Maine

Final score: Won 9-8
Largest deficit: Trailed 7-6, bottom sixth

HOW IT HAPPENED: A big five-run sixth by Maine wasn’t enough to sink the Bulldogs. MSU tied it at 7-7 in the bottom of the sixth and tacked on two more runs in the eighth on singles by Mangum and Elijah MacNamee. 

THE HERO: MacNamee’s two-out knock proved to be the game-winning hit after Maine pushed a run across in the ninth to tighten the gap. 

March 13 vs. Grambling State

Final score: Won 18-1
Largest deficit: Trailed 1-0, bottom fourth

HOW IT HAPPENED: After Grambling opened the scoring in the fourth, Mississippi State turned on the gears to the tune of 18 unanswered runs on 18 hits and eight walks.

THE HERO: Dealer’s choice. Six Bulldogs finished with multi-hit games. Of note, MacNamee had a grand slam and five RBIs and Mangum (4-for-5) picked up his 300th career hit.

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March 15 at Florida

Final score: Won 6-5
Largest deficit: Trailed 1-0, top fifth

HOW IT HAPPENED: Welcome to SEC play. MSU only trailed once in the game but sweated it out in the ninth as the Gators mounted a comeback attempt. After trailing 1-0, the Bulldogs built up a 6-2 lead before Florida pushed across three in its final turn at bat. The potential tying run was stranded at third on a game-clinching strikeout by Gordon.

THE HERO: MacNamee’s two-run double in the top of the ninth made it 6-2 and gave the Bulldogs just enough insurance to squeak by in Gainesville.

March 19 vs. Little Rock

Final score: Won 15-4
Largest deficit: Trailed 4-0, bottom first

HOW IT HAPPENED: Falling behind in the first frame would become a common theme midseason for Mississippi State. Quick responses also would. MSU answered Little Rock’s four-run top of the first with a four-spot of its own in the bottom half. That started a string of 15 unanswered runs, with an eight-run sixth being the final dagger.

THE HERO: Mangum finished 5-for-6 with three RBIs at the top of the lineup. 

March 20 at Samford

Final score: Won 6-4
Largest deficit: Trailed 4-0, bottom first

HOW IT HAPPENED: Sound familiar? Just one day after the Little Rock game, Mississippi State once again gave up a quick four in the first inning to go behind 4-0. This time, it took until the later innings to pull away. Trailing 4-2 in the seventh, MSU posted four runs behind a Landon Jordan fielder’s choice, singles from Rowdey Jordan and Mangum and a Westburg reached on error. 

THE HERO: Rowdey Jordan was 2-for-5 with the game-tying hit while Mangum was 3-for-5 with the go-ahead knock.

March 24 vs. Auburn

Final score: Won 20-15
Largest deficit: Trailed 11-4, bottom fourth

HOW IT HAPPENED: These SEC rivals combined for 35 runs, 42 hits and five errors in a bizarre game featuring five lead changes. Auburn’s biggest lead stood at 11-4 after a seven-run outburst in the fourth. MSU countered with four in the fifth and three in the sixth. After seven frames, it was all tied at 15-15. Then the Bulldogs broke through for five in the eighth to put the Tigers away.

THE HERO: Skelton’s three-run homer in the eighth made it 20-15 and bookended a career-high five-RBI day.