June 21, 2019 2:16:45 PM
OMAHA, Neb. --Mississippi State freshman JT Ginn looked into his cap.
Before striding across the first-base line he looked he muttered a few words into it.
Stepping onto the mound, Thursday's starting pitcher crouched down on the backside. With his right hand he scribbled into the dirt.
Quickly he popped up and stood on the rubber to begin his warm-up throws.
"I just tried to go out there and compete and make pitches when I needed to," Ginn said postgame.
There were plenty of questions entering Friday's 4-3 College World Series elimination game loss to Louisville on whether Ginn was aptly prepared.
For three weeks he had been sidelined with arm soreness after tossing just three innings against Southern University in the opening game of the Starkville Regional on May 31.
It was a lingering issue that first plagued him in an April 7 start at Tennessee, from which he was pulled after just an inning for precautionary measures.
Those questions proved irrelevant. Thursday was a stunning return to form for the freshman right-hander.
In six innings pitched, he allowed no runs, just three hits and walked one, while striking out two.
"I've always been a college baseball fan, so pitching in the World Series is something I've always wanted to do," Ginn said. "To get to go to achieve that is pretty amazing."
While Ginn was stellar on the mound, his battery mate, catcher Dustin Skelton, was phenomenal behind the plate.
The junior flashed the devastatingly accurate arm he has for much of 2019.
With the Cardinals threatening in the third inning, Skelton leapt out of his stance after corralling a ball on the plate.
Stepping and firing, he delivered a strike to sophomore second baseman Justin Foscue to catch Louisville's Lucas Dunn attempting to steal by nearly five steps.
Skelton reprised the role in the sixth inning. On a similarly fated pitch in the dirt, he collected, gathered and threw toward third.
Pounding senior Marshall Gilbert's mitt on the bag, the tag was applied on Cardinals' pinch runner Trey Leonard by almost three steps. Again, it wasn't close.
"Dustin Skelton called a hell of a game tonight, and he made a bunch of big plays for me," Ginn said.
Ben Portnoy reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch.
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