After about 19 hours and a scary top of the ninth innings, Mississippi State clinched a berth in the College World Series for the first time in six years, knocking off the Virginia Cavaliers with two impressive wins in two and a half days.
State used strong pitching in the middle innings from Chad Girodo and another solid offensive performance to take the Cavs 6-5 in game two of the restarted series following a suspension of the game last night.
MSU (48-18) went down by a run for the second-consecutive game early, however. Trevor Fitts would give up just two hits in his 2.1 innings, but the first would be hurtful as he gave up a lead-off home run in the second and a 1-0 UVA lead.
That lead, like the one Saturday, would be short lived. After a flyout by Wes Rea started the bottom half of the second, C.T. Bradford and Demarcus Henderson would draw walks. With the pitcher struggling to find the zone, MSU would bail him out a bit. On a hit and run call, Nick Ammirati would swing and miss and the Bulldogs would get the double steal. However, Ammirati crossed the plate and was called for a batters interference erasing him and moving the runners back.
Adam Frazier, following his 6-for-6 night Saturday, came to the plate and delivered again slapping the ball into the outfield. Bradford came around to score, but Henderson was gunned down at the plate and the ball game was tied at one after two innings.
Two quick outs in the bottom of the third and MSU looked like they would go quietly. Not the case with this team. Becoming known for their two-out deliveries, State went to work with Brett Pirtle depositing a hit in the infield. Rea then stepped to the plate and destroyed a ball to left field, through the trees, while the left fielder and outfield fans watched it go by. State led 3-1 after three.
State wasn't done in the fourth, while Girodo was starting to roll against the UVA offense. Henderson started things off with a bunt single and was sent to second on the sacrifice by Ammirati. Back-to-back singles from Armstrong and Frazier plated one and a two-out reach for Renfroe on an error got another one home as State took a comanding 5-1 lead into the fifth.
Virginia made some noise in the sixth getting two runs and cutting the lead to 5-3, but Girodo would mow them down with three strikeouts in the seventh. As Renfroe came to bat and took two strikes, thunder and rain came with him and the game was delayed.
After approximately 90 minutes, the game was officially suspended and scheduled to start at 3 p.m. on Monday. State would go straight to work with Renfroe fouling off some pitches and then sending a shot into right center field. The right fielder struggled to coral the ball and a double turned into three bases for Renfroe to lead off the inning. Bradford came through and brought Renfroe home with one out and State got an insurance run for a 6-3 lead.
It was now time for All-American closer Jonathan Holder to pitch two innings and get the Dawgs to Omaha. He made easy work of the first three batters striking out a batter to end the eighth three-up-three-down.
The ninth, however, would not be as easy. Holder would give up a lead-off walk to put the first runner on base. A groundout would send the runner to second followed by a wild pitch and then a walk to put runners on the corners. Holder would get a huge strikeout to get the second out of the inning and one away from the final eight.
A routine grounder to Alex Detz appeared to do the trick, but the throw across was not in time scoring a run to make it 6-4. The next batter sent a ball to Rea at first who tossed it to Holder but the ball got passed him and another run came across.
With the leading run at second base, Holder would finally get it done on a 5-3 groundout and MSU was officially in Omaha for the first time since 2007 and for the ninth time in school history.
State got another pretty solid day at the plate by Frazier. The junior went 2-for-5 with two RBIs in the game to lead the way. Bradford and Armstrong each recorded two hits as well.
Girodo (8-1) became the winning pitcher as he sent the Bulldogs to both the Super Regionals and Omaha with his last two wins. He struck out 10 batters in 4.2 innings just six days after striking out a career-high 12.
MSU now turns to Omaha this Sunday where they will meet the winner of Oregon State and Kansas State.Those two teams are set to play a game three later tonight.
- WINNING IN THE TRENCHES: The MSU bullpen has been the calling card all season long and it might be what gets them deep into the College World Series. This season, the bullpen has now gone 31-5 with 21 saves in 309.2 IP.
- ADAM FRAZIER IS GOOD AT BASEBALL: Adam Frazier, he who tied a school record with his 6-for-6 performance on Saturday, had another solid day at the plate on Sunday. The junior shortstop drove in a couple of runs with a 2-for-5 day. The two-hit day was his 32nd multi-hit game of the year for Frazier, and his 10th multi-RBI game of the year. He is just two hits shy of taking the all-time single season record.
- MR. CONSISTENCY: Brett Pirtle continues to get on the base paths.The JUCO transfer's third-inning infield single meant that he has now reached base in each of the last 39 games. More impressively, he's recorded a hit in 32 of those games.
- GIRODO-MO: Chad Girodo is becoming the feel-good story of the year and has been a godsend for the MSU bullpen. Drafted in the ninth round by the Toronto Blue Jays, Girodo delivered another gem in relief on Sunday. His 35th appearance of the season leads the team and is now third-best in school history. After striking out 12 batters against Central Arkansas to send MSU to the supers, he struck out 10 more in the Super Regional in 4.2 innings to send the Bulldogs to Omaha. He improved to 8-1 on the year and has struck out 22 batters in his last 11.1 innings.
- HOLDER CONTINUES TO CUT EM' DOWN: Jonathan Holder got into a little bit of trouble in the ninth inning but finished off the Cavaliers to get his school record extended to 18 saves this season and now sits at 26 in his two years, already just two shy of tying Van Johnson's school record. He threw 2.0 innings giving up two hits, two runs (one earned) and striking out two.
- RENFROE DE-SLUMPING: Following a four-hit day on Saturday, Renfroe got a hit to fall at the resumption of game two. He left the suspended game in the hole 0-2 to lead off the seventh. He came back to get a lead-off double to restart and ended up at third with the right fielder struggling to control the ball. He has now hit in 49 of his 61 games he has played and is in a seven game hitting streak. The double was his 16th of the season and he leads the team with 33 multiple-base hits.
- WINNING: State now sits at 48-18 on the year and 28-3 in non-conference games. All three losses in non-conference play came against Central Arkansas whom MSU played a total of six times this year and went 3-3 against. The 48 wins heading into Omaha are the most wins since the 1990 team won 50 games all season.
- VIRGINIA IS USUALLY NOT FOR LOSSES: Virginia came into the weekend with one of the most impressive offensive clubs in the country. But what was most impressive was a 30-3 home record. The Bulldogs handed them two losses in two games.