You have waited for this moment. Your parents have waited for this moment. Your grandparents have waited for this moment. It was not a dream. It actually happened. The 2021 Mississippi State baseball team won the first national championship trophy to Starkville, Mississippi.
Saturday night, my wife, my father and I celebrated the walk-off win versus Texas for about five minutes before deciding we needed to purchase tickets and book a room in Omaha. Luckily, my wife was able to calm my nerves and put a level head on yours truly, and we bought tickets just in time. We did it. We pulled the trigger and decided this was the year we were going to check a box off our bucket list and go to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
Sunday morning, we left Dallas at 8 a.m. to make the beautiful trip to Omaha. As we passed through WinStar Casino in Oklahoma, the cows of Topeka, Kansas, and the edge of Iowa, I started to get goosebumps as we neared downtown Omaha. Sunday evening, we arrive in Omaha and make the trip over to downtown to eat at Hook and Lime next to Rocco’s (they close early on Sundays). As we drove into the exit to downtown, I see TD Ameritrade Park. This was a surreal moment for me. I’ve dreamed of seeing our Diamond Dawgs play on the biggest stage of college baseball. We had made it and were ready to cheer on TA, Rowdey, and all of the guys who made it possible to play in the College World Series finals.
Monday morning, we worked from home (also known as our Airbnb in Glenwood, Iowa). I won’t lie. It was extremely difficult to focus on anything at work that day. I was in OMAHA. I had one thing on my mind... we have a chance to bring home a national title to Mississippi State. Monday evening, work was over, and it was time to head to the ballpark for the first time in my life. I have to give loads of credit to my wife for capturing many of the moments on her phone for us to relive. I just couldn’t bring my phone out due to soaking in every second of this moment. The rain delay had ended, and it was time to play ball!
Tuesday morning, whew, that was discouraging. I worried that we had purchased tickets and booked a room, only to repeat the 2013 College World Series. Mississippi State was 0-1 and knew they couldn’t pitch their ace, Will Bednar, due to only two days of rest. Everyone knew we would be going to the confident senior pitcher, Houston Harding, and HE SHOWED UP. Harding and Preston Johnson dominate Game 2, along with our HOT bats in our lineup. Mississippi State had made it further than ever before. One more win and the Dawgs are coming home with a national title.
Wednesday morning, I woke up feeling something in the pit of my stomach that wasn’t just gas. That feeling was butterflies that I had never felt before. All day that feeling would creep back in and remind me that we needed to win ONE more.
Bednar vs. Rocker. The game was set up to be tense. A pitching duel... or so we thought. First at-bat... CRACK... Rowdey Jordan with a leadoff single! The mostly maroon crowd at TD Ameritrade Park ERUPTED! Willy B was dealing. The Dawgs were swinging the bat with confidence. The entire park and city of Starkville knew deep down, this could be the night, but no one would say it because we didn’t want to jinx it.
During the seventh inning, my wife and I went to grab some Dippin’ Dots in center-right field. After Logan Tanner hits a solo shot to left, Scotty Dubrule and Brayland Skinner found a way to get on base, and then, KELLUM CLARK THREE-RUN BOMB! It was 9-0, and here comes Landon Sims. At this point, everyone knew but still wouldn’t say a thing. We’ve been State fans for far too long to think this was “in the bag,” but it was, in fact, in the bag.
Bottom of the ninth, Sims gets two quick outs, and the Vanderbilt batter bunts a ball over to third, and Kamren James delivers the final out of the CWS. It was over. It was surreal. The Diamond Dawgs had done something no other Mississippi State team had ever done. They had just won a national championship for Mississippi State University.
My first trip to Omaha was a success. I took in the moment and watched the national championship trophy ceremony. We, as a school, family, fan, deserved this. The 2021 Mississippi State Baseball team will have a place in my heart unlike any other team will have. Thank you, Diamond Dawgs.