June 24, 2013 3:54:08 PM
OMAHA, Neb. - Welcome to the College World Series finals Game 1. For the first time in school history, Mississippi State University will be attempting to win a team national championship.
The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog is your stop for extensive coverage of MSU's appearance at the 2013 CWS. The Bulldogs (51-18) will face UCLA (47-17), who is also looking for its first college baseball national championship as well.
Also feel free to follow me for live game updates on Twitter through @matthewcstevens
MISSISSIPPI STATE STARTING PITCHER: Trevor Fitts (0-0, 2.86) - In the first game of the College World Series finals, Mississippi State University will be sending a sophomore right hander to the mound with just five career starts.
MSU coach John Cohen announced Sunday during the media teleconference, Trevor Fitts (0-0, 2.86) will get the baseball first after he threw the beginning 2 1/3 innings in a 5-4 victory over Indiana University.
"It was just an amazing feeling with all those people watching and stuff like that," Fitts said about his first CWS start. "I couldn't ask for a better experience, except to go for more innings obviously! But that all starts with me and how I throw the ball, pound the zone."
Fitts was effective for the first seven outs of the game as the Helena, Ala., native kept the Hoosiers off balance mostly with breaking balls in his first time through the order.
"My high school coach (Jeff Mauldin) was here said 'you threw a good game, I just don't understand why you threw so many breaking balls," Fitts said. "So even he's still wondering why I'm throwing certain pitches in certain situations."
With the announcement of Fitts, Cohen acknowldegd the more important aspect of the pitching staff to him and MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson is what they have available in the bullpen.
"That (starting pitcher question) is always going to get asked but I really feel like it's important for us to see who pitches in the middle of the game," Cohen said.
Chad Girodo went 6 1/3 innings of relief in the last game Fitt's started before giving the baseball to MSU closer Jonathan Holder for the final two outs of the evening.
"Coach (Butch) Thompson has reiterated that the whole season," Fitts said. "I remember the first day he texted all of us who is our best pitcher? And the correct answer to that is whoever is on the mound."
Fitts has started the first game of a tournament this season already as he got the start in the opening game of the Southeastern Conference tournament in Hoover, Ala., in what turned out to be a 17-inning thriller.
"It's great feeling because I love pitching in big ballparks, obviously since I chose Mississippi State," Fitts said. "Dudy Noble is awesome."
MISSISSIPPI STATE PROJECTED STARTERS (2013 statistics):
C - Nick Ammirati, Sr., RH - .247, 23 RBI; Has thrown out 11 of 26 base runners while taking over the position from Mitch Slauter after his hand injury. Ammirati has seen his batting average dip 33 points since the Southeastern Conference tournament. MSU coach John Cohen expresses constantly he is MSU's best defensive catcher in terms of blocking and throwing.
1B - Wes Rea, RS-Soph., RH - .300, 7 home runs, 40 RBI, .992 fielding percentage; Second on the team in home runs and third in slugging percentage (.470). Had the game-winning RBI hit in opening game 5-4 victory over Oregon State University.
2B - Brett Pirtle, Jr., SH - .312, 2 home runs, 33 RBI; One of the more unique cleanup hitters in the country at 5-foot-9 and 176 pounds. Pirtle has gotten on base in 40 consecutive games and has scored 11 runs in the postseason. Here's a Dispatch feature in this week's print edition on Pirtle - http://cdispatch.com/sports/article.asp?aid=25056
SS - Adam Frazier, Jr., LH - .358, 20 doubles, 7 stolen bases. A preseason All-America team honoree that was drafted in the 6th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2013 MLB Draft next month. Frazier is second on the team in average and would've been the Charlottesville Super Regional most valuable player after going 8 for 11 including a 6-hit day in game one. Frazier set the school record for hits in a single season with his two-hit day in Game 1 against Oregon State.
DH/3B - Alex Detx, Jr.., LH - .320, 31 RBI, .457 on-base % - Has 19 multi-hit games and his currently hitting .378 in the postseason with a .458 on-base percentage. Had two hits in each victory over Oregon State.
RF - Demarcus Henderson, Jr., RH - .278, 23 runs scored, 23 RBIs. Really has heated up in the final two months of the season. Henderson is hitting .289 in the postseason with 6 RBIs.
LF - Hunter Renfroe, Jr., RH - .355, 15 home runs, 61 RBI, .644 slugging %. A preseason All-America selection who won the C Spire Ferris Trophy and was a first-team All Southeastern Conference selection. Renfroe was also a semi-finalist for both USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award and the NCBWA's Dick Howser Trophy, given to the nation's top collegiate player before being selected No. 13 overall by the San Diego Padres.
CF - C.T. Bradford, Jr., LH - .283, 1 home runs, 26 RBI, .360 on-base percentage. Since suffering a severe quad/hip injury in the Southeastern Conference tournament, Bradford's bat has gone cold as he's hitting just 6 for 34 (.176) in the postseason. However, his ability defensively in the large gapped outfield of TD Ameritrade Park is still valuable.
3B/UTIL - Sam Frost, Sr., LH - .293, 10 RBIs, 7 stolen bases - The Hoover, Ala., native is hitting a career best .295 in limited duty this season, 23 starts and 47 games played. He'll be the possibly ta dynamic left-handed bat in the MSU lineup today against a Oregon State bullpen or a defensive substitution late in the game if MSU has a lead.
DH - Trey Porter, Sr., LH - .257, 22 RBIs, .347 slugging % - In the last month of the season, Trey Porter developed a severe eye infection that held him out of primary action and was told not to wear his contact lenses until the infection had cleared. Against doctors orders, Porter has been wearing his contacts only during games and with less than 20/20 vision the senior designated hitter hit a rocket to right centerfield for the game-winning two-run single in the eighth inning against Indiana.
UCLA PROJECTED STARTING PITCHER: Adam Plutko (9-1, 2.13), Jr., RHP - Plutko will make his 19th start of the 2013 season against Mississippi State University Monday night after defeating Louisiana State University Sunday in the CWS opener for both clubs.
"I've taken the ball Friday night the last two years so preparation is not much different," Plutko said. "I'm just going to focus on what I do and executing pitches and that's pretty much it."
Against the Southeastern Conference Western Division champions, Plukto (9-3, 2.29) was brilliant as he held the Tigers to one earned run over seven innings in a 101-pitch performance against a SEC first-team selection in LSU sophomore Aaron Nola.
Plutko is 2-0 in three postseason starts this season where he's struck out 13 and walked just three.
UCLA PROJECTED STARTERS (2013 statistics):
C - Shane Zeile, Soph., RH (Bakersfield, Calif.) - .233, 44 RBI, 2 HR, 9 2B,
1B - Pat Gallagher, Jr., LH (Reno, Nev.) - .278, 20 RBI, HR, 7 2B, .377 OBP
2B - Cody Regis, Sr., LH (Glendora, Calif.) - .231, 8 2B, 18 RBI, 0 HR, .351 OBP
SS - Pat Valaika, Jr., RH (Valencia, Calif.) - .249, 13 2B, 5 HR, 44 RBI, .392 slugging %
3B - Kevin Kramer, Soph., LH (Turlock, Calif.) - .280, 11 2B, 3 HR, 41 RBI, .381 slugging %
RF - Eric Filia, Soph., LH (Hunington Beach, Calif.) - .275, 13 2B, HR, 26 RBI, .382 OBP
LF - Brenton Allen, Jr., LH (Cerritos, Calif.) - .248, 15 R, 2 HR, 20 RBI, .333 OBP
CF - Brian Carroll, Jr., RH (San Diego, Calif.) - .261, 62 H, 45 R, .369 OBP
3B/UTIL - Christoph Bono, RS-Fr., LH (Palo Alto, Calif.) - .211, 2 HR, 10 RBI, .337 OBP
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