June 10, 2013 6:19:29 PM
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - For the ninth time in school history and first time under head coach John Cohen, Mississippi State University will be going to the College World Series.
Following a 6-5 victory Monday over University of Virginia at Davenport Field in game two of the 2013 NCAA Charlottesville Super Regional, the Bulldogs baseball program will be making its first appearance in Omaha, Neb., since 2007.
Cohen, who made the College World Series as a MSU player in 1990, will be bringing his first team to the event as a coach.
I'm so proud of our guys," MSU coach John Cohen said after the win. "I think the thing I'm most proud of with our guys is that they all wanted to be in Omaha but their goal is to try and win the whole thing. They don't see this as a job being finished. We're excited but at the same time I think these kids still think we have some journey left to go here."
Cohen, who played for MSU from 1987-90, took over the program five years ago from the legendary coach Ron Polk and promised to get MSU back to the premier championship event in college baseball. His first two years in Starkville saw no postseason and a frustrating 48-62 combined record as he tried to rebuild the talent pool in the program. Four players on the MSU roster were around for that second rebuilding year at MSU (Kendall Graveman, Chad Girodo, Sam Frost and Ben Bracewell) and four years later, they'll experience exactly what they were recruited do: bring the Bulldogs program a College World Series appearance.
"Yeah I thought we'd get here because it's Mississippi State," Cohen said after the win. "I really believe in our staff. The most important thing you do as a staff is get the right people in our program, that's it. These are the right kids. We have phenomenal kids."
MSU (48-18) survived through two weather delays Sunday and a restarting of game two in the 2013 NCAA Charlottesville Super Regional 18 hours later Monday. A 22-minute weather delay occurred in the second inning before the contest was resumed before a second delay forced a Monday finish.
"We felt pretty good about our chances with Holder on the mound," MSU junior shortstop Adam Frazier said. "Even after those two things didn't go our way in the ninth and the tying run on third, you still feel pretty comfortable."
In that Monday finish, MSU didn't waste any time getting its star closer on the mound as sophomore Jonathan Holder got his 18th save of the season. Holder, who has two postseason saves, was anticipating getting the baseball on his 20th birthday Sunday but celebrated a day later with a Super Regional victory at Davenport Field in Charlottesville, Va.
The right hander, who is a Louisville Slugger first team All-American selection, had MSU fans holding their breath in the ninth inning as after two hits, a error, a wild pitch and a walk, Virginia (50-12) had the tying run at third base before Holder got the final out of the series. Monday represented his 27th career save for MSU, making him two shy of the school's all-time record set by Van Johnson, before Holder was being mobbed by his teammates for a dog pile on the pitchers mound.
"I remember seeing the ball (on the final out) hit to Detz and then the perfect throw," Holder said. "I saw Wes Rea at full size trying to tackle me. It was a great feeling."
Adam Frazier led the way offensively as the junior shortstop finished the Super Regional series 8 for 11 with five RBIs and two runs scored. The sixth round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates has gotten on base in 17 straight games.
MSU junior outfielder Hunter Renfroe finished the series 5 for 9 with three RBIs and three runs scored. Rea, a sophomore first baseman, had four hits and two RBIs.
"What I will do is tip my cap to Mississippi State and those three players," Virginia coach Brian O'Connor said. "Those three players played like winners this weekend. That's what you need this time of year. You need a couple guys like that to rise up and have big days. Those three players certainly stood out."
MSU has won a game in Omaha, Neb., since Pat McMahon led a Bulldogs team to a 14-13 victory over the University of Florida. The Bulldogs have never played in the College World Series championship series with 1985 being the only time they won multiple games. The 1990 MSU team, which Cohen was a starting outfielder on, went 1-2 with a 15-1 victory over Georgia Southern University.
"I think the thing I'm most proud of with our guys is that they all wanted to be in Omaha but their goal is to try and win the whole thing," Cohen said. "They don't see this as a job being finished. We're excited but at the same time I think these kids still think we have some journey left to go here."
MSU will face either Kansas State University or Oregon State University in an opening-round of the eight-team, double-elimination College World Series. The Bulldogs will play either Saturday at 2 p.m. CT in the first game of the tournament.
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.
5. Evading the Nazis BOOK REVIEWS