ATLANTA | Mississippi State beat Georgia Tech 7-3 tonight to advance to its fourth super regional in school history.
The Bulldogs (37-23), which went 3-0 in this regional, will face No. 2 national seed Florida in Gainesville in the super regional round. The Gators (47-16) wrapped things up earlier today by beating Miami. State will be making its fourth super regional appearance since 2000 and first since 2007, when it reached the College World Series.
"We've come a long way. This is a big step for our baseball program," coach John Cohen said.
Junior left-hander Nick Routt (3-3) tossed a complete game, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits. It was his second career nine-inning complete game (the other one was 2009 against Auburn) and the first by an MSU pitcher this season. Routt retired the first nine batters he faced, and he struck out six against one walk.
"I was really just working on throwing in the strike zone," Routt said. "They swung early in counts obviously trying to hit the home run. Thankfully I had a good defense behind me, and the ball bounced our way."
Freshman C.T. Bradford had three hits and drove in four runs as State jumped out to a 6-0 lead after three innings. Bradford was named regional MVP after going 7 of 13 with five RBIs on the weekend.
MSU had 10 hits tonight and got some stellar defense, especially from the outfielders. It was the kind of ball State's played all weekend, and it was the kind of ball Cohen saw coming after a strong week of practices and preparation.
"The SEC doesn't allow quick change. It just doesn't, it's too good," Cohen said. "They don't care about scrappy; the SEC cares about skill level. And that's a big part of why we've been able to make a little bit of a jump this year and take that next step, because we have skill level, and we have kids who are mentally tough. When those two things come together, things like this are possible."
Georgia Tech starter DeAndre Smelter (2-1) lasted 2 1/3 innings, allowing six runs (one earned) on six hits. Tech (42-21) committed five errors, which led to six unearned runs. The Yellow Jackets had to play two games today, beating Austin Peay 12-2 earlier to advance, but coach Danny Hall didn't think the long day contributed to the miscues.
"I felt like we just didn't make plays. I don't think it was a case of we were tired or a step behind or anything like that," Hall said.
The Gainesville Super Regional, which will be a best-of-three series, will start either Friday or Saturday. We will find out dates and start times Monday.