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State Closes Out UVA To Advance To CWS; Opens Play Saturday

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Wes Rea's two-run blast Sunday night set the stage for the Bulldogs' victory and return trip to Omaha.
Photo Courtesy of special to hailstate.com

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Omaha, the Bulldogs are coming back.

Mississippi State clinched its ninth appearance in the College World Series with a dramatic 6-5 win over No. 6 national seed Virginia Monday afternoon at Davenport Field to clinch the Charlottesville Super Regional.

With the victory, the Bulldogs swept the Super Regional best-of-three series and won its second-ever Super Regional in five career tries. MSU advances to the College World Series for the first time since 2007 and will play for a first-time in the new CWS home, T.D. Ameritrade Stadium.

MSU will face No. 3 national seed Oregon State in the opening round of the eight-team, double-elimination CWS. The Bulldogs' opener is scheduled for Saturday, June 15, at 2 p.m. CT and will be televised by ESPN2.

“It does without saying that Virginia is a great club,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “Virginia’s RPI is No. 2 in the country and they are a really good club. I’m so proud of our guys. I think the thing that I’m most proud of with our guys is they all wanted to be in Omaha but their goal is to try and win the whole thing.

“They don’t see this as a job being finished. We’re excited but at the same time, I think these kids still think we have some journey left to go here.”

MSU held a 5-3 lead when the series clincher was suspended by rain in the seventh inning Sunday night. Once play resumed Monday, the Bulldogs expanded the lead before holding off a furious Cavaliers rally in the ninth inning.

The story of the series clincher was the relief performance of Chad Girodo. Trevor Fitts started on the mound for the Bulldogs and was lifted with one out in the third inning and his team down 1-0.

From there, Girodo (8-1) sparkled in relief, allowing five hits and two runs (both earned), with 10 strikeouts and two walks. In three regional and super regional appearances, Girodo recorded 24 punch outs.

The Bulldogs (48-18) erased the 1-0 deficit with a single score in the second inning and Wes Rea’s mammoth home run in the third inning. Rea hit a two-run shot into the trees in left field. It was the Maroon and White’s first postseason home run.

“We got to school in August and the guys just meshed well, Rea said. “It felt like we have something special in the locker room and we’d never really had that with a ballclub before. We knew going to Omaha was our goal and if you don’t talk about your goals then you’re never going to reach them. We’re not done yet, and we’re going to try to win the whole thing with the same approach.” An inning later, the Bulldogs extended the lead to 5-1 and chased Cavaliers’ ace Scott Silverstein (10-2). Silverstein allowed seven hits and five runs (four earned), with one strikeout and three walks. The Bulldogs battled at the plate and extended Silverstein’s outing, as the fifth-year senior threw 71 pitches.

For the contest, MSU finished with 10 hits, after pounding out 20 hits in an 11-6 win in the series opener Saturday. Frazier had two hits and finished the Super Regional hitting at an 8-for-11 clip. Frazier is now second on the all-time single season hits list at MSU with 102 hits, one shy of the school record by Brian Wiese.

C.T. Bradford and Derrick Armstrong also had multiple hits.

Virginia (50-12) responded with two runs in the sixth inning. Nate Irving lined a two-run double for the Cavaliers in that at-bat. Girodo worked his squad out of that tight spot and with skies threatening worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning.

After play was suspended, Hunter Renfroe got things stated in the home half of the seventh inning with a leadoff triple for MSU. Renfroe trotted home with an RBI-single by Bradford.

In relief, Jonathan Holder worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning but ran into trouble in the ninth inning. The Bulldogs gave up two hits and a walk, while also making an error on a potential game-ending ground ball. Still, Holder regrouped and got a ground ball from Derek Fisher to end the contest.

“We felt pretty good about our chances with Holder on the mound,” Frazier said. “Even after those two things didn’t go our way in the ninth and the tying run on third, you still feel really comfortable.”

As the last out was recorded, Holder pointed to the skies and Bulldog players came from everywhere for a Maroon-clad dog pile on the pitcher’s mound.

“Yeah, I thought we’d get here because it’s Mississippi State,” Cohen said. “I really believe in our staff. The most important thing you do as a staff is get the right people in our program. These are the right kids. We have phenomenal kids.”

As the skies darkened again, the Bulldogs celebrated, a large Maroon and White contingent chanted “S-E-C, S-E-C” and notice was served that MSU was ready for college baseball’s biggest stage.

 


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