May 29, 2013 9:00:13 AM
STARKVILLE - It didn't take very long for the University of Central Arkansas to name its starting pitcher for the opener of the school's first ever NCAA regional.
UCA coach Allen Gum immediately named senior right hander Caleb McClanahan (10-5, 2.17 ERA) will face top seed MSU in the second game Friday at 7 p.m.. The senior first-team All-Southland Conference selection came back on two-days rest in Saturday morning's semifinal win over Oral Roberts University.
"Caleb's been really good about that," Gum said. "Just come right at them, here it is." And I tell you, the rest of the staff, the ones that have done really well, have just followed his lead. He's just been a horse for us. I"m proud as heck for him.'
The Bears, who have won a school-record 39 games this season,reeled off five straight elimination-game victories to claim their first Southland Conference championship and first NCAA Tournament bid in school history.
In the only contest MSU won in the three-game series on March 8-10 at Dudy Noble Field, the Bulldogs attacked McClanahan in the second time through the batting order by building a 4-0 lead in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
"He's definitely led the charge for our pitching staff in that regard," Gum said. "He's shown that if you just fill that zone up and let your defense do the work, good things will happen."
McClanahan's pitch-to-contact style allowed him to record nine straight outs to open the game but MSU did have a warning track shot by Alex Detz and a couple hard hit line drives beautifully handled by UCA shortstop Justin Treece. McClanahan took the loss in Starkville after going 4 1/3 innings and allowing two runs on three hits in 57 pitches during a 4-2 victory by MSU.
"Everybody just got in a rhythm on him and when that happens, you're going to hit somebody pretty hard," Renfroe said after the March 8 win.
MSU is expected to announce a starting pitcher today and talks with the Bulldogs coaching staff project that starting pitcher to be right handed due to Central Arkansas' right-handed tendency in the batting lineup.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
1. Be intentional with holiday food choices ENTERTAINMENT
2. Photos: Autumn Sunrise COMMUNITY
3. What the Fossils Show Us BOOK REVIEWS
5. Columbus Sings 'Messiah' celebrates 15th year ENTERTAINMENT