State fans could feel it again. Despite the fact that the ball fell in their way for once on Saturday with the final out, it appeared any luck had run out and State was heading to the losers bracket. Just don't tell the Bulldogs they were supposed to lose. State used a three-run rally in the eighth capped by a Trey Porter two-run single to take out the Indiana Hoosiers and move the Bulldogs to the Friday ball game forcing the winner of Indiana and Oregon State to beat them twice.
The game started very similar to Saturday. Adam Frazier led it off with a base hit on the first pitch he saw and Alex Detz was immediately hit in the back by a pitch, the Bulldogs were in business. Frazier would come in on a fielder's choice by Renfroe, but ill-advised base running had Detz thrown out trying to get to third. Another blunder had Renfroe out on a Pirtle groundout and a Wes Rea strikeout ended the inning with only a 1-0 hole for Indiana to get out of.
State (50-18) would lose the lead in the second inning and go down in the ball game 3-1 and the offense wasn't helping State out. Runners inherited bases, but could not move around the paths and it seemed that it just wasn't the old Dawgs' day.
That's when they proved everyone wrong once again. Things started to finally click offensively with a base hit from Pirtle with one out in the sixth. A wild pitch moved Pirtle into scoring position, and Rea came through with the RBI to get State back within one. C.T. Bradford would take a pitch in the back and Demarcus Henderson followed it up with a single to load the bases.
After a Nick Ammirati flyout, John Cohen had a decision to make and went with senior Trey Porter who has been used very little as of late. He would immediately get the attention of the 25,000+ fans at TD Ameritrade as well as the millions watching at home as he drove one deep to right center field where it died a slow and painful death in the glove of the center fielder for a loud out and the bases stayed loaded. It would not be the only noise he would make, however.
While the bats were waking up, so was MSU reliever Chad Girodo. After giving up a run in his first inning of relief, Girordo (9-1) would light up the mound to strike out 10 batters in 6.1 innings and keep MSU in the hunt.
After a quick three-up-three-down seventh inning for State, they had to go to work for a second-straight game in the eighth. MSU was coming off of a game one where they brought two runs home in the eighth to come back from a one-run deficit and defeat the Oregon State Beavers. They would need that production once again this game and that is what they got.
Pirtle started things off with more consistency. The juco transfer, carrying a 41-game streak of reaching base, sent a ball through the hole to start it off. Rea then stepped to the plate in a familiar situation having brought home the winning runs in the eighth last ball game on a double. Rea smashed a base hit on a perfectly executed hit and run and State had runners at the corners with no outs trailing 3-2.
After Bradford struck out, the pressure was on young Demarcus Henderson. Henderson quickly fell behind 0-2 in the count but battled back before sending a shot right in front of the right fielder to tie the ball game at three. Ammirati would ground out, and once again it was up to pinch hitter Porter. Porter, facing a 3-1 count crushed a ball into right field and pushed himself into MSU folklore with a two run single and a 5-3 Bulldog lead.
In the bottom of the ninth, though, things got hairy for the Bulldog pen. As Girodo began to tire, his pitches began to hang giving up a loud out to center and then a double deep to center that bounced off the wall and had two runners in scoring position. A ground out brought in a run and had Indiana just 90 feet away from tying the game. Cue: Jonathan Holder to get the final out and that's what he did, in dramatic fashion.
Holder took a slow roller off the bat on just his second pitch and threw it low (very low) but it was picked out of the dirt in what looked like a much easier play for Rea.
State got a three-hit ball game by Pirtle going 3-for-5 and scoring two of the Bulldogs five runs in the game. Rea and Henderson also had multi-hit games and scored a run a piece. But the hero of the game was Porter, putting a charge in the bat in his two appearances, finishing 1-for-2 with two game-winning RBIs.
MSU had strong pitching from Trevor Fitts and Girodo as they combined for 8.2 inning giving up seven hits and four runs striking out an MSU CWS record, 14 batters. Girodo got his ninth win in relief and Holder moved his school-record to 20 saves this season.
Now the Dawgs rest their entire pitching rotation for three days and await the winner of Indiana and Oregon State in an elimination game to be played Wednesday. Yes, State fans, your Bulldogs are one win away from playing for a National Championship.
- GIVIN' EM FITTS: Trevor Fitts only threw 2.1 innings on Monday night but he did damage while in the game. While giving up two runs and two hits, Fitts got a season-best and career-high-tying four strikeouts in seven total outs.
- GIRODO-MO: Chad Girodo struggled in his first innings and last inning of work giving up four runs with three credited to him, but he was money in all of the innings in between. The senior southpaw struck out 10 batters in 6.1 innings and earned the win to move to 9-1 on the year. He has now struck out 32 batters in his last three games spanning 18.1 innings and he's struck out 10 or more batters in three-straight appearances.
- OKKK: The Bulldog pitching staff combined for 14 strikeouts as a team which is the most for an MSU staff in the CWS. The strikeouts were a direct correlation of what the MSU bullpen has been able to do this season. They are now 33-5 on the year with 23 saves in 320.1 innings, over half of the wins and innings that have been pitched this season.
- WE LOVE TO CALL HIM BIG PAPA: Wes Rea had another huge day at the plate. After striking out his first two at bats, Rea recorded back-to-back big hits coming in the sixth and eighth innings when MSU was making their comeback. He was 2-for-5 at the plate and has recorded back-to-back multi-hit games. He has 15 multi-hit games on the year and five in 12 postseason games. He's also 11-for-30 at the plate in the postseason.
- FIRST-PITCH FRAZIER: Leading off has been an easy job for Frazier all year long and he showed how easy it was on the first pitch he saw, sending it through for a base hit. He extended his school record to 105 and now sits tied at the top of the NCAA list in hits this season with only Alex Bregman from LSU within reach of him, one hit back.
- PIRTLE-POWER: After a uneventful non conference start, Brett Pirtle turned into a consistently productive hitter and he hasn't stopped. He got on base in the first on a fielders choice, but would end up knocking the ball around the park for a 3-for-5 day scoring two runs on his own. He has now reached base safely in 41 consecutive games. His three-hit day was only the third of the season.
- RENFROE KNOWS... HOW TO PLAY BASEBALL: Renfroe continues to be good at baseball as he once again recorded a hit. He got on base in the ninth with a smash up the middle and ended the day 1-for-4. It was the 51st game Hunter has hit in out of 63 games. He is currently in the middle of a nine-game hitting streak.
- CUT. EM. DOWHOLY CRAP IS IT OVER? YES!: Well Jonathan Holder didn't make it easy again, but he got the Bulldogs a save against the only batter he faced on a tough pick out of the dirt by Rea. The save was the 20th of the year, extending his school record, and his 29th overall. He has now tied Van Johnson for first all-time in career saves... In TWO years.
- POSTSEASON GRINDIN': MSU now has rolled off nine wins this postseason. Their run through the SEC Tournament, Starkville Regional, Charlottesville Super Regional and now College World Series has State at 10-2 this postseason. The 10 wins are the most postseason wins in school history bettering the 9-4 postseason by the 1990 squad. State improved to 50-18 giving them their first 50-win season since that 1990 year and just the fourth 50-win year in school history. They can do no worse than tie the school record in games played with 71.