The chopper down the third base line didn't have the impact of some mighty blows by Hunter Renfroe, but it was enough to help the Bulldogs start to rally back to claim a 6-2 victory over South Alabama after falling behind 2-0 to advance to Sunday's championship game in the Starkville Regional.
Renfroe's RBI infield single came with two outs and bases juiced in the fifth inning.
"Hunter ran a 3.96 to first," said Mississippi State skipper John Cohen of Renfroe's RBI single. "There are major league lead off hitters who can't do that."
Brett Pirtle, who has reached base safely in 35 consecutive games, followed Renfroe with a two-RBI single to right field that put the Bulldogs ahead 3-2, and Wes Rea added another RBI single, his third such hit of the regional, to push the Bulldog's lead to 4-2.
Ross Mitchell made sure that lead held up for the Bulldogs as he pitched 5.1 innings of scoreless baseball to pick up the win, his twelfth of the season against no losses, in relief of Luis Pollorena, who was chased after allowing four singles and two runs with two outs in bottom of the fourth.
"I'm so proud of Ross Mitchell," said Cohen. "He wants to help Mississippi State win baseball games."
The Bulldogs added to their lead when C. T. Bradford smacked a two run single with two outs to give Mississippi State a 6-2 lead.
All eight runs scored in the game came with two outs, and the fact that his team scored six such runs was not lost on Cohen.
"Mentally we are trying to convince our guys that we have two strikes and two outs because that is when we take our best swings," said Cohen.
Alex Detz finished his night 3 for 4 to with a run scored to lead the Bulldogs at the plate, improving to 6 for 7 on the weekend.
With the win, the Bulldogs will now wait to learn their opponent as South Alabama and Central Arkansas must do battle in an elimination game Sunday at 2. There will be little rest for the winner, as that team will meet Mississippi State at 7. A victory by the Bulldogs would advance them to the Super Regional round, but a loss would make a decisive Game 7 of the regional necessary on Monday to determine a champion.
The winner of the Starkville Regional will face the winner of the Charlottesville Regional, where the national sixth seed, Virginia, has advanced to the championship game undefeated.