June 4, 2013 9:33:07 AM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State University baseball team concocted a perfect mix of pitching, defense, and hitting Monday to keep its season alive.
Buoyed by a career-high 12 strikeouts by reliever Chad Girodo, MSU took advantage of early mistakes by the University of Central Arkansas en route to a 6-1 victory in the final game of the NCAA Starkville Regional in front of a crowd of 8,662 at Dudy Noble Field.
"These kids wanted to bring a regional to Starkville, Mississippi and that's exactly what they did," MSU coach John Cohen said. "Our fans created a unbelievable atmosphere all weekend long, and it is truly a special place. There was a lot of discussion in our locker room that if we get to host a regional it will be crazy. Our kids deserved this."
The victory sends MSU (46-18) into the best-of-three Super Regionals, where it will face No. 6 national seed University of Virginia (50-10) in Charlottesville, Va. Game one of that series will be at noon Saturday (ESPN2). Game two will be at 6 p.m. Sunday (ESPNU). If necessary, game three will be at 3 p.m. Monday. MSU is seeking its first trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., since 2007.
MSU extended its season thanks in part to three errors by UCA (42-22). The Bears, who defeated the Bulldogs three times in five games prior to Monday's game, also stranded 10 runners. One of the errors and a wild pitch came in the first inning and allowed MSU to score two runs.
Girodo, a senior left-hander, came on in relief of starting pitcher Ben Bracewell in the third inning and made the lead stand up. He allowed five hits and one run and walked two in 6 2/3 innings. His 12 strikeouts doubled his previous career high.
Leading 3-0, MSU added to the lead in the fourth on run-scoring hits by Adam Frazier and Hunter Renfroe, who had three hits and two RBIs in the Bulldogs' 11-hit attack. Frazier and Demarcus Henderson also had two hits.
Girodo, Wes Rea, Brett Pirtle, Renfroe, and Alex Detz (MVP) were named to the all-tournament team. Detz, a junior designated hitter, went 8-for-13 in the tournament.
Ticket books for the Super Regional are on sale. 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. MSU is allotted 400 booklets for reserved bleacher seating on the first-base side. The MSU ticket office will accept orders, filled based on Bulldog Club priority rank, through 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets orders will only be accepted by phone at 1-888-GO-DAWGS, or in person at the Bryan Building.