Will Clark. Rafael Palmeiro. Jeff Brantley. Jay Powell. Buck Showalter. Eric Dubose. Chris Stratton. Richard Lee. Bruce Castoria. John Cohen.
The history at Mississippi State is second to none. But what none of those players listed above has accomplished is a National Title. A program that has reached the College World Series nine times is making their first ever trip to the Championship Series and their path here has been nothing short of remarkable.
The legends listed above and their legacy they left have been joined by a new set of legendary moments. The "Bench Mobb", "Fear the Beard" and the players that have made all of this possible have forever etched their names in the memories in the hearts of Bulldog fans everywhere and in the eyes of the national media.
State (51-18) entered the game with the same loose attitude and play that they've shown the entire postseason. Kendall Graveman took the mound against Andrew Miller of Oregon State just as it was in game one of the CWS, and Graveman did his job well.
After both pitchers dueled through 3.5 innings, MSU was the one that was again going to throw the first punch. In the bottom of the fourth with one out, Brett Pirtle did his usual work by reaching base on the single, his 42nd consecutive game to reach safely. Wes Rea continued his postseason lore by sending his third double of the College World Series into the gap. A tough play at first base on a C.T. Bradford single would drive in a run and State took the 1-0 lead.
State was just getting started. After a couple of groundouts in the bottom of the fifth, State would get the bats hot again. Adam Frazier got his 106th hit of the season through the hole and Alex Detz followed that up with another single and Hunter Renfroe was up to the plate. Renfroe has had recent struggles. He had once led the league in home runs but had not hit one in over a month. That all would change. Renfroe saw a pitch just over the plate and drove it deep to left field. As it continued to carry, the collective breaths grew louder until it sailed into the bullpen for a three-run shot. State got two more hits from Pirtle and Rea, good for five-consecutive two-out hits, but a flyout by Bradford ended any more of a threat.
On the other side of the ball, Graveman had only given up one run before giving way for Ross Mitchell who dealt another solid outing. After a couple of one-out hits, Jonathan Holder was called upon to save the game. Holder got the final two outs and his 30th save of his career, a new MSU record.
Graveman (8-5, 3.09) earned the win in 5.2 innings giving up just four hits and a run while striking out two. Mitchell threw 2.1 strong innings of relief giving up four hits but no runs.
State was led at the plate once again by Wes Rea who recorded his third-straight two-hit ball game in the College World Series. MSU also got two hits from Detz, Pirtle and Bradford as all three went 2-for-4.
Now the Bulldogs embark on something that has never been done by either of the big 3 schools in the State of Mississippi (Southern Miss., Ole Miss and MSU) in any of the major sports; play for a National Championship.
The Diamond Dawgs will play the winner of North Carolina and UCLA in a three game series held Monday-Wednesday night and broadcast by ESPN. All games are set for 7 p.m. central starts.
- POSTSEASON SUCCESS CONTINUES: Mississippi State now holds a 11-2 postseason record in 2013, stretching out their school record for postseason wins. They went 3-1 in SEC Tournament play, 3-1 in the Starkville Regional, 2-0 in the Charlottesville Super Regional and 3-0 now in the College World Series. State's game against Oregon State on June 21st was also the latest an MSU team as ever played .
- THE STRENGTH IS IN THE PEN: While Graveman had a big starting performance today, the bullpen once again shut the door on the opposition. This season, they hold an amazing 32-5 record with 23 saves in 317.1 innings and an ERA under two runs. Meanwhile on Oregon State's side, Andrew Moore, the Pac-12 Freshman of the year and Freshman All-American, gave up a career-high four runs in each of his games against the Bulldogs and on Friday exited after 4.2 innings, the shortest outing of his career. He fell to 14-2 on the season.
- BIG PAPPA WES STILL MAKING NOISE: Continuing to make a name for himself on the national stage. He had another big day on Friday going 2-for-4 with a double and both outs coming on loud fly balls to left field. He has now recorded three-consecutive two-hit ball games all coming on the biggest stage and it's the first time he has done so all season. He also has 16 multi-hit games on the year and six in 13 postseason games. He is 19-for-52 in the postseason with five doubles, one home run, 10 RBIs and four runs scored.
- KING FRAZIER: Adam Frazier might have set a record for single season hits at State, but he's not done yet. The junior shortstop got his 106th hit of the season on Friday giving him the nation's lead with two North Carolina Tar Heels the only ones left to reach him back no less than eight hits. He has reached base in 21-consecutive games this year.
- CHICKS DIG THE LONGBALL: Hunter Renfroe finally got back into his home run groove driving one to left field that brought in three runs. It was his first home run since May 4 and his 16th of the season to go along with his 65 RBI. He is now tied once again with Mason Katz with the SEC lead in home runs. The junior first-rounder is currently in a 10-game hitting streak and has a hit in 52 of his 64 games this season.
- PIRTLE IS MR. CONSISTENCY: Pirtle got the Bulldogs a single with one out in the fourth inning and ended up coming home for the first run of the game. It was his 42nd-consecutive game that he's reached base having hits in 33 of those games. He was 2-for-4 in the ball game, now recording 20 multi-hit games this year.
- CUT EM' DOWN: Jonathan Holder recorded the final two outs of the ball game and recorded his third save in as many games in Omaha. Most importantly, Holder has now set the career record of 30 saves in just two years as the closer. He's also record 21 saves this season, extending his school record.
- DOUBLE DAWGS: With a runner on second and one out in the third, Wes Rea took a smash at first base, caught it and threw it to second for the double play. State would garner two more of those twin killings and now sit at 80 on the season, good for second in the country and one back from leading the country in that category for a second-straight year.
- TWO-OUTS, THEIR TIME: The Bulldogs continue to get the job done on offense, but especially with two outs. State had five-consecutive hits with two outs and the third was the big three-run shot by Renfroe scoring three. In the postseason, MSU has batted .363 with two outs driving in 37 total runs on eight doubles, two home runs and a triple.