Mississippi State Bulldogs designated hitter Jordan Westburg (11) celebrates a grand slam with third baseman Justin Foscue (17) and shortstop Luke Alexander (7) in the second inning against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Photo by: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
June 19, 2018 4:19:07 PM
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
OMAHA, Neb. -- The man behind the Rally Banana helped move the Mississippi State baseball team one win from the national championship series.
Jordan Westburg had a grand slam and a bases-clearing double Tuesday to lead MSU to a 12-2 victory against North Carolina at TD Ameritrade Park.
With the win, MSU (39-27) advances to play at 2 p.m. Friday against North Carolina or Oregon State. The Bulldogs need one more win to advance to the best-of-three championship series.
"It felt great. I think if you're going to do all the shenanigans in the dugout, might have to step it up on the field and back that up," Westburg said, "so it's always nice to do that today."
Westburg, who introduced bananas as MSU's source of postseason magic, hit a grand slam with two outs in the second inning. His second home run of the season came on a slider from Andrew Bergner and staked MSU to a 4-1 lead.
With MSU leading 4-2, Westburg added a three-run double in an eight-run eighth that gave him seven RBIs for the game. He is the first player to have a single-game seven RBIs in a College World Series game since 2001. Westburg also is the first Bulldog to have a grand slam in a College World Series game since Bobby Thigpen in 1985.
"Taking advantage of opportunity there in two instances, running the breaking ball out of the yard and then getting the fastball down the line for a total of seven RBIs," MSU interim coach Gary Henderson said. "Great day for us and then obviously a day he and his family will remember forever."
The eight-run outburst was MSU's biggest inning in a College World Series game since it scored 11 against Georgia Southern in the first inning on June 3, 1990.
MSU starting pitcher Konnor Pilkington hit the 60-pitch mark in the third inning, but he retired six of the last eight batters he faced in a 110-pitch outing in six-plus innings. His only blemish was the leadoff double and ensuing sacrifice fly in the first inning. He allowed two runs on six hits. North Carolina scored its second run on a triple right fielder Elijah MacNamee lost in the sun and a wild pitch by Cole Gordon.
Gordon allowed one hit in the final three innings.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson