After weeks of speculation on if MSU would bring a Regional back to Dudy Noble Field, the Bulldogs heard the name called last week as a number one seed. It was the first time in 10 years that Starkville hosted a four-team Regional and the first time in six years that DNF had baseball in June.
The problem was, State (46-18) was given arguably the toughest draw in the tournament facing three mid-major teams that were capable of knocking off anyone in the country. It would turn out that the pesky Central Arkansas team that came to Starkville and knocked off the Bulldogs in a three-game series earlier in the year would give them the biggest trouble.
State disposed of the Bears in the opening game of the series before defeating the two-seeded South Alabama Jaguars in day two. Sunday's possible Regional-clincher against UCA turned out to be a bad loss and a decisive game was forced for Monday.
The Dawgs would use incredible performances from a couple of veteran pitchers with a good start from Ben Bracewell and one of the performances of the year from senior Chad Girodo. The two would combine for 17 strikeouts, including a career-high 12 from Girodo in relief, to get the 6-1 win to advance to Charlottesville, Virginia to take on the number six national seed Virginia Cavaliers.
Some things to note coming in to the series: Girodo, Wes Rea, Brett Pirtle and Hunter Renfroe were named to the All-Tournament team with Alex Detz named the Most Outstanding player in the Starkville Regional. Detz, playing a primary role as the designated hitter in the regional, blistered the ball at the plate going 8-13 scoring four runs in four games.
MSU closer Johnathan Holder has been named a NCBWA Stopper of the Year finalist. The winner of the Stopper of the Year will be chosen from four other finalists on June 15th in Omaha during the College World Series. The latest accolade comes on the heels of Holder being named a Louisville Slugger All-American last week as well as being selected a first-team All-SEC pitcher.
The sophomore closer leads the team in strikeouts as the closer with 81 in 46.0 innings and has already set the school record for single-season saves with 17. His 26 saves in two years are three away from the all-time career record held by Van Johnson (29)
State's 3-1 regional weekend moved them up in a couple of rankings that are still out. It appears that the other publications might be waiting until the end of the season to rank teams. Let's take a look.
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Now let's check out where the Bulldogs stack up against the rest of the country and in the conference.
Batting Average: 8th - Hunter Renfroe (.352); 11th- Adam Frazier (.344)
Hits: 3rd (T-9th in NCAA)- Frazier (94); 8th- Renfroe (80)
Slugging %: 2nd (26th in NCAA) - Renfroe (.634)
On Base %: 4th- Alex Detz (.461); 8th- Renfroe (.440)
Runs Scored: T-3rd-Frazier (35th in NCAA) (58); T-6th-Renfroe (51)
RBI: 3rd (35th in NCAA)- Renfore (58)
Doubles: 4th Frazier (17); T-9th- Renfroe (15)
Triples: T-2nd (19th in NCAA) - Frazier (6)
Home Runs: T-1st (T-14th in NCAA) - Renfroe (15)
Total Bases: 3rd (T-21st in NCAA)- Renfroe (144); 7th- Frazier (123)
Walks: 2nd (13th in NCAA) -Alex Detz (50); T-11th- Renfroe (34)
Hit by Pitch: 3rd (T-27th in NCAA)-Brett Pirtle (19)
At Bats: 1st- Frazier (273); 11th-Bradford (237)
Batting Average: 3rd (.293)
Hits: 3rd (19th in NCAA) (642)
Slugging %: 4th (.387)
On Base %: 3rd (.385)
Runs Scored: 3rd (382)
RBI: 3rd (341)
Doubles: 5th (96)
Triples: T-4th (13)
Home Runs: T-7th (28)
Total Bases: T-3rd (848)
At Bats: 2nd (2189)
Walks: 3rd (T-17th in NCAA) (273)
Hit by Pitch: 4th (74)
Stolen Bases: T-6th (55)
Team/Individual Defense and Pitching
Earned Run Average: 3rd (13th in NCAA) (2.73) Leaders: Ross Mitchell- 2nd (10th in NCAA)- (1.41)
Opposing Batting Average: 4th (.222) Leaders: R. Mitchell-6th (.205)
Innings Pitched: 2nd (580.1) Leader: Graveman- 7th (98.0)
Strikeouts: 1st (10th in NCAA) (534) Leader: Jonathan Holder- T-8th (81)
Wins: 3rd (46) Leaders: R. Mitchell- 2nd (T-6th in NCAA) (12); Chad Girodo- T-10th (7)
Saves: T-4th (19) Leader: Jonathan Holder- T-1st (T-6th in NCAA)- (17)
Appearances: Leader: Chad Girodo- T-4th (33); R. Mitchell- T-8th (30); Holder- T-12th (29)
(Least Amount) Hits: 5th (468) Leaders: R. Mitchell- 11th- (61)
(Least Amount) Earned Runs: T-3rd (176) Leader: R. Mitchell- T-1st- (13)
(Least Amount) Doubles: 2nd (61); Leader: R. Mitchell- T-9th (9)
(Least Amount) Triples: T-2nd (5) Leaders: R. Mitchell and Pollorena -T-1st (0)
(Least Amount) Home Runs: T-2nd (19) Leaders: R. Mitchell and Pollorena- T-6th (2)
(Least Amount) Intentional Walks: T-1st (3)
Fielding %: 9th (.972)
Chances: 1st (2571) Leader: Wes Rea- 10th (449)
Putouts: 2nd (1741) Leader: Rea- 8th (421)
Assists: 2nd (759) Leader: Frazier-1st (220); Pirtle- T-11th (158)
Double Plays: 2nd (4th in NCAA) (72) Leaders: Frazier-T-2nd (56); Rea- T-9th (42); Pirtle-T-11th (40)
The Bulldogs survived and advanced. It is their fifth Super Regional in school history. Since postseason games went to Supers in 1999, there are only three teams in the SEC that have been to a Super Regional more than MSU. It is also the second Super Regional in the last three years for John Cohen who seems to be getting his team closer and closer to being elite. By this time next week, we'll know if MSU is elite yet or not.
Games this weekend in Virginia are set for Noon Saturday (ESPN2), 6 p.m. Sunday (ESPNU) and if necessary on Monday at 3 p.m. (ESPN2).