The college baseball world went 735 days without a dogpile in Omaha. That all changed Wednesday night when Mississippi State won their first College World Series beating Vanderbilt 9-0. It was also the first National Championship for any sport at the university.
Obviously the elephant in the room is NC State. We have to address it. They were forced to play with a skeleton crew after going up 2-0 in the CWS. The first semi-final game against Vanderbilt, they only had 13 available bodies to play. 9 position players and 4 pitchers. Sam Highfill, a freshman who absolutely shoved a couple days before against Vandy, was in the line up and went 3-4 at the dish. All against Vandy ace Kumar Rocker nonetheless. Vanderbilt was able to win that game 3-1 and force a winner-take-all semi-final to go to the CWS Finals. Later that night, news broke about 2am EST that the NCAA was not going to allow NC State to compete due to Covid protocols. Just an absolutely heartbreaking end to an incredible season for the Pack9. It is very ironic how the NCAA wouldn't allow the Wolfpack to compete, but at the same time boasting about record attendance numbers at TD Ameritrade park with no mask mandate. It's just very weird seeing those two headlines next to each other and quite frankly, doesn't make sense. They were rolling and looked like they were well on their way to a CWS Finals appearance. Granted they would have got Leiter in the second semi-final game but who knows what would have happened against Kumar if NC State had their full lineup. We will never know.
As unfortunate as it is, this isn’t Vandy’s fault, they didn’t have any play in this. There was nothing they could do. Vandy just got lucky. It definitely seems like they got lucky a lot, the passed ball allowing them to walk off and avoid elimination is just one instance. But you know what they say: “Good teams get lucky.” This was just a crazy circumstance that worked out in their favor. It could’ve happened to any team.
With all that being said, this puts Vandy in the best position possible having Jack Leiter fresh and ready for Game 1 of the CWS Finals. He shoved in that game and led Vandy to an 8-2 win. After that, it was all Mississippi State. The Bulldogs went on to outscore Vandy 22-2 in the next 2 games which is just stupid (Game 2: 13-2, Game 3: 9-0). Game 3 was a highly anticipated pitching matchup between Kumar Rocker and Will Bednar, both throwing on 3 days' rest. But it was not the pitchers duel we were expecting. Kumar gave up 4 earned in 4.1 innings of work, extremely unlike him, but this Mississippi State lineup is no joke. Rowdey Jordan and Tanner Allen at the top of the lineup is as good of a 1-2 punch college baseball has ever seen. In the Game 3 Final, Rowdey and Tanner were responsible for 5 of Mississippi State’s 12 hits. The Bulldogs put up 9 runs through the first 7 innings and everyone knew it was over.
Will Bednar. This man needs no introduction. An absolute beast. He went 6 innings of NO HIT BASEBALL. Mississippi State went up 9-0 in the bottom half of the 6th and I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT THEY DID NOT LET THIS MAN GO BACK OUT FOR THE 7TH. IT IS 9-0. HE HAS A NO HITTER. Bednar did not get the walk-off-the-field and standing ovation that he deserved. He should’ve went back out there. Once someone reached base, take him out. What’s the worst that happens, a leadoff solo shot and now it’s 9-1? Who cares. He still gets his standing ovation, and you got Landon Sims coming in behind him. You worried about Landon not being able to hold an 8 run lead at worst? Sims barely gave up 8 runs all year!! Anyways, Bednar shoved, he’s a savage, took it right to Vandy’s lineup and out pitched a possible top 5 pick in the draft when it mattered most. Landon Sims did what he does best, he came in and shut the door to get the last 9 outs of the game. Landon Sims is also an absolute beast and is going to be fun to watch again next year (even though he gave up the one hit and ruined the combined no-no).
Side note: if you’re bunting, with 2 outs, down 9-0 in Game 3 of the CWS Finals, I really don’t know what to tell you. I don’t care that he was safe, I really don’t. He should be automatically out for doing that. Those are the situations where you literally just swing as hard as you can and try to hit a tank because the game is over. But no, let’s lay a bunt down.
All in all, it was incredible to have a College World Series and a packed house in Omaha this year after everything that happened last year. We witnessed history seeing Mississippi State win their first title in school history for any sport. We almost saw a combined no-hitter in the Game 3 Final. We saw the whole state of Mississippi make the trip to TD Ameritrade Park and pretty much give the Bulldogs a home game every game. But best of all, we saw a dogpile in Omaha.
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