STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI Sports/MSU Athletics) – The ride continues.
Ninth-ranked Mississippi State returns to Super Regional play for the second time in three seasons as the Bulldogs knocked off Central Arkansas 6-1 to capture the Starkville Regional championship Monday night at Dudy Noble Field.
MSU (46-18) will face No.6 national seed Virginia (50-10) in the Charlottesvile Super Regional. This best-of-three series will begin later this week. An official start time for the series, game times and television assignments were expected to be issued by the NCAA late Monday.
MSU wins a home regional for the first time since 2000. The Bulldogs completed their third straight regional appearance with a trip to the Super Regional round for the first time since 2011. Two victories at Virginia would send MSU to the College World Series for the first time since 2007.
“It goes without saying, I’m really proud of our club and how they came out and played today after the disappointment of last night,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “The two guys that pitched for us tonight said they were going to force it and find a way to win it.”
MSU dropped the first championship game to Central Arkansas 6-2 Sunday night. Less than 24 hours later, the Maroon and White were back at it winning a home regional for the sixth time ever before a crowd of 8,662.
“You saw what was there,” MSU junior outfielder Hunter Renfroe said. “The fans here are 100 percent supportive of us and I feel like we have one of the best fan bases in the college baseball. Whether we win or lose, they’re going to be backing us. How the fans reacted and supported us tonight after we won the regional, I wouldn’t be surprised if we had that many fans in Virginia.”
In the title clincher, the Bulldogs got a masterful pitching performance from starter Ben Bracewell and reliever Chad Girodo. In his second start of the season, Bracewell worked 2.1 innings, allowing one hit. Girodo (7-1) took it from there with a career-best 6.2 innings of work, with five hits and allowed and a career-best 12 strikeouts.
“It’s a great feeling, but I really wanted to do it for my teammates because we’ve had such a great season,” Girodo said. “We have a special thing going on.”
MSU took the lead for good with two scores in the first inning. The Bulldogs expanded the lead with a single score in the second inning, two scores in the fourth inning and another score in the sixth inning.
UCA (42-22) broke up the shutout with a two-out RBI-single from Forrestt Allday in the ninth inning.
“I really thought Ben really set the tone for us and Chad was just unbelievable,” Cohen said. “We knew (Girodo) was capable but we haven’t really extended him like this really in his career.”
Tournament Most Outstanding player Alex Detz was again a catalyst for the MSU offense. In the tournament, Detz was 8-of-13 and reached base 12 times in 17 appearances. In the title clincher, Detz had two of the Bulldogs’ 11 hits.
Back-to-back hits by Detz and Renfroe started things in the first inning. A groundball out scored one run and the first of three UCA errors scored the other.
An RBI-groundout by Adam Frazier expanded the lead to 3-0.
A double by Henderson started things in the MSU fourth inning. Frazier and Renfroe had run-producing hits. An RBI-single by Renfroe capped the scoring in the sixth inning.
Renfroe had a team-best three hits, while Frazier and Demarcus Henderson joined Detz as multi-hitters.
Central Arkansas finished with six hits, including two hits by Garrett Brown. Starting pitcher Bryce Biggerstaff (6-5) was lifted in the fourth inning and took the loss.
The seven-game Starkville Regional drew a total attendance of 61,433.
SUPER REGIONAL TICKET INFORMATION
Ticket books for next weekend’s best-of-three NCAA Super Regional are on sale now. The series is expected to sell out and fans are encouraged to order their tickets as soon as possible to guarantee admission.
Reserved seating ticket books are $36 each. The Super Regional will be held Friday (June 7) through Sunday (June 9) or Saturday (June 8) through next Monday (June 10). The NCAA is expected to announce the game dates and times late Monday night.
Mississippi State is allotted 400 booklets for purchase with these being reserved bleacher seating on the first base side. The MSU ticket office will be accepting orders, filled based on Bulldog Club priority rank, through Wednesday, June 5th at 4:30 pm. Tickets orders will only be accepted by phone at 1-888-GO-DAWGS or in person at the Bryan Building.
The Starkville Regional all-tournament team included Connor Gilmore (pitcher, UCA); Chad Girodo (pitcher, MSU); Michael Marietta (catcher, UCA); Wes Rea (first base, MSU); Brett Pirtle (second base, MSU); Chesny Young (third base, Mercer); Justin Treece (shortstop, UCA); Ethan Harris (outfield, UCA); Nick Zaharion (outfield, South Alabama); Hunter Renfroe (outfield, MSU) and Alex Detz (designated hitter, MSU)
Detz was named tournament Most Outstanding Player