June 13, 2016
Mississippi State University saw its historic baseball season come to a close on Saturday night in a 6-5 loss to the University of Arizona in 11 innings. The Bulldogs won the SEC regular season championship and was named a national seed for the first time in school history.
MSU had little trouble in the four-team regional, which the Bulldogs hosted last weekend. The team was a perfect 3-0 as it cruised to the Super Regionals. Arizona had to battle through the loser's bracket in the Lafayette Regional just to reach this Super Regional.
The Wildcats' pitching was the story in game one of the Super Regional. MSU could only muster five hits in a sensational performance by Arizona pitcher Bobby Dalbec. Arizona got eight and 2/3 innings out of Dolbec, who needed just a run in the sixth inning to secure the win.
Game one saw a 37-minute delay due to a power outage all over the MSU campus. But the stoppage didn’t have any effect on Dolbec, who came out to pitch once power was restored.
The power outage seemed like an exact metaphor for the MSU bats, but maybe it was really just foreshadowing the end of the Bulldogs' season.
MSU had a chance in the ninth inning with two men on and two outs. The Bulldogs' superstar freshman Jake Mangum struck out on three straight pitches, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 win in game one.
In game two, both teams put up a run in the second inning after a scoreless first inning. MSU jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the third inning as the Bulldogs got a run off two errors.
The Bulldogs added to their lead in the top of the fourth when right fielder Brent Rooker hit a solo homerun, giving MSU a 3-1 lead. In the seventh inning, MSU was able to manufacture a run to up the lead to 4-1 over the Wildcats.
Rooker went deep once again in the top of the eighth inning, giving the Bulldogs a huge 5-1 lead and needing only six outs for the win. The bottom of the eighth inning is when things fell apart for MSU.
Arizona quickly got two men on first and second when first baseman Ryan Aguilar blasted a three-run home run, cutting the MSU lead to 5-4. The Bulldogs got out of the eight, but the damage was done, and the momentum had shifted to the Wildcats.
MSU went down in order at the top of the ninth inning. Arizona got a double by Cody Ramer to start off the inning. The Bulldogs got a strikeout by pitcher Reid Humphreys before Alfonso Rivas singled to score Ramer to tie the game at 5-5 to force extra innings.
Neither team was able to muster any offense in the 10th inning, as the score stayed 5-5 heading to the 11th inning. MSU went down in order at the top of the 11th inning.
Arizona started the 11th with its first batter getting struck out. Then, the Wildcats got a single from left fielder Kyle Lewis, putting the winning run on base.
MSU walking Aguilar put runners on first and second base before getting the second out of the inning on a strikeout. The Bulldogs walked Dolbec, who was playing third base in this game to load the bases.
Arizona got a single from catcher Cesar Salazar to bring home the game-winning run for the Wildcats. Arizon hit out MSU 25 to 12 in the series, but the Bulldogs’ pitchers struck out 24 batters to the Wildcats’ 17 strikeouts.
Mississippi State wasn’t the exception for SEC teams in Super Regionals. Overall, the conference went 2-9 over the weekend in the second round.
After getting five teams into Super Regionals, MSU, Louisiana State University and the University of South Carolina all got swept in two games. Texas Christian University bounced Texas A&M in three games, as the Aggies got one of the two SEC wins.
Only the University of Florida has a chance to advance to the College World Series if they can survive a winner take all game three against Florida State University. If the Gators lose, the SEC will get shutout of the CWS this year.
*Correction*** An earlier version of this story said MSU pitcher Ryan Humphreys when it should have said Reid Humphreys. The mistake has been corrected in the story above.