Trey Porter’s two-run single in the top half of the eighth inning lifted MSU to its second straight win at TD Ameritrade Park with a thrilling 5-4 victory over Indiana before a crowd of 25,260.
The Bulldogs have won two games in the College World Series for the first time since 1985. MSU will now enjoy three days off before facing either Indiana or Oregon State for the Bracket 1 championship at 2 p.m. Friday. This contest will be televised nationally by ESPN.
With a victory Friday, MSU will advance to the best-of-three national championship series for the first time in school history. Either Oregon State or Indiana would have to knock off MSU both Friday and Saturday to prevent the Bulldogs from reaching that series.
“One of those games where we had to keep competing,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “We had to overcome some mistakes. We had two base running mistakes in the first inning and were able to overcome that.
“I am really proud of the kids for competing and battling and having fun. We never believe that we are not going to win a game.”
The Bulldogs have won 10 postseason games for the first time in school history. MSU will carry a five-game win streak into Friday’s play. The Bulldogs have won 50 games for the fourth time ever.
In relief, Chad Girodo (9-1) dominated. Girodo allowed seven hits and two runs (both earned), with 10 strikeouts and one walk in 6.1 innings of work. With an Indiana runner at third base, Jonathan Holder threw two pitches, got a groundball out to end the contest and nailed down the Bulldogs’ second-ever two-win College World Series appearance.
The MSU bullpen is now 33-5 with 23 saves this season. The Bulldogs struck out a school World Series record 14 batters Monday night.
“The story of the season is our bullpen,” MSU first baseman Wes Rea said. “They have come in and dealt all year. We just know we have to score a run or two and grab a lead and its ballgame. That is an incredible feeling. That is why we have so much confidence.”
Starting pitcher Trevor Fitts was lifted with one out in the third inning. Girodo was touched for a couple of hits in the third inning as the Hoosiers built a 3-1 lead. From there, Girodo held Indiana at bay as MSU rallied.
“The story of the game is Chad,” Cohen said. “We had some really clutch at-bats late in the game as well. But we did a great job against a good offensive team.”
The Bulldogs pulled within 3-2 on a Rea RBI-single in the sixth inning. MSU chased Indiana freshman starter Will Coursen-Carr in that at-bat but left the bases loaded.
MSU then forged ahead with three runs in the eighth inning.
Brett Pirtle started that at-bat with a leadoff single. Rea followed with a hit and the Bulldogs had runners on the corners. After a strikeout, Demarcus Henderson ripped a game-tying single. After a groundout, losing pitcher Ryan Halstead (4-5) gave way to Brian Korte.
Korte was touched for a two-run single by Porter to right center field on a 3-1 pitch.
For the contest, the Bulldogs finished with 11 hits. Pirtle led the way with three hits, while Rea and Henderson each had multi-hits. Adam Frazier had his 105th hit of the season, which moves into a tie for the national lead.
A tiring Girodo was touched for a single and double in the IU ninth inning. A ground ball out scored one run but the Hoosiers failed to get another.
With his 20th save, Holder now has 29 career saves, which ties him with Van Johnson for the career record at MSU.
“You always dream about having a chance to play in the College World Series,” Porter said. “You really don’t think that opportunity is ever going to come because there are so many great players and great teams. To be able to have an at-bat like that and have a hit like that to help my team is very special indeed.”