When 10,226 maroon and white clad MSU fans descended upon Dudy Noble Field Sunday night, it's safe to say that they expected to see MSU come out and finish off its first Starkville Regional win since 2000. And for at least the first few innings, that looked like it would become a reality, as State jumped out to an early 1-0 lead. But a disastrous third inning opened the door for Central Arkansas, who used two errors by shortstop Adam Frazier to their advantage to score two runs, taking a lead that would ultimately hold for the entire game. Another sloppy inning late would see the bears tack on another three runs, and that would be more than enough for the boys from Conway, Arkansas to claim a 5-2 Sunday night win, forcing a winner-take-all game 7 on Monday night in Starkville.
Here's a few thoughts on Sunday night, and some notes on Monday's winner-take-all game 7:
- I have no clue what it is, but this team plays like the bad news bears against Central Arkansas. In five games against the UCA, State has committed 12 errors (via Mike Bonner). That's 18% (69 total) of the team's errors for the entire season. In FIVE GAMES.
- There was one bright note from Sunday's loss: For the first time in our school's history, State has hosted three consecutive games featuring crowds of 10,000 fans or greater. Pretty neat. Great job to everyone who made it up to Starkville this weekend.
- The top six in MSU's order last night (Frazier, Detz, Renfroe, Pirtle, Rea, Bradford): 1-for-20
- There was another silver lining from last night's game in the form of Hunter Renfroe's eighth inning single. Although Renfroe would ultimately be stranded, it was the first ball that I've seen him hit solidly in several weeks. It comes as no surprise that Renfroe has been playing tight lately; he's slated to be a top-15 draft choice in this week's MLB Draft. So to see him finally jump on a pitch and get a good cut at it was encouraging. Should State survive tonight's elimination game, hopefully Renfroe will able to play more loose with the draft behind him next weekend.
- As for Monday's game, you have to think State will come out and play much better. They even admitted that they took the Bears for granted last night, and I have to at least hope that that will not happen again this evening. The other good news is that Jacob Lindgren and Ben Bracewell are completely fresh for tonight's game; neither have thrown an inning since last week's SEC Tournament. Add to that Girodo and Holder's availability, and you have to like how State stacks up pitching wise for tonight's championship game.
- Tonight's win-or-go-home game will start at 7 p.m., with the game again being televised by ESPN3. There was some hope that maybe State could grab the ESPNU slot for tonight, but that will go to Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech. Oh yeah, that's worth mentioning. Vanderbilt and North Carolina, the two top national seeds, both lost games last night as well, and will play take-all games tonight as MSU is doing. So don't get too down on the Dogs, they certainly aren't the only ones fighting to move on tonight.