Mississippi State was on cruise control up 5-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning over Arizona.
But the Wildcats halted things with four runs in their final two at bats to tie the game and then won it in walk-off fashion in the 11th to punch their ticket to the College World Series.
Cesar Salazar singled through the right side with the bases loaded and two outs to send Arizona to Omaha with a 6-5 win.
“We just lost our second one-run ballgame and our hat’s go off to Arizona,” said MSU coach John Cohen. “They’re a good club and well coached. They came in here in a really difficult environment on the road and played very, very well.”
Up by four in the eighth, Mississippi State’s bullpen surrendered five straight hits by the Wildcats including a three-run homer to right by Ryan Aguilar off Ryan Rigby to pull within 5-4.
“After I hit that, everyone believed more than ever that we were going to win that game,” Aguilar said.
Arizona tied things up in the ninth off Bulldog closer Reid Humphreys on a bloop RBI single to left by Alfonso Rivas. The Wildcats left the bases loaded as Blake Smith came on to get a strikeout and a ground out to send the game into extra innings.
With Smith still on the hill in the 11th, the Wildcats got a single from Kyle Lewis and two walks to load the bases. Salazar then slapped a 1-1 single to right for the game-winner.
“I was just trying to see the ball and hit it hard,” Salazar said. “I got my pitch and got the hit.”
MSU did not get a hit in extra innings and only yielded one base runner.
Arizona has now won 12 of its last 13 games to improve to 44-21. The Wildcats collected 18 hits on the evening. Zach Gibbons led the way going 4-for-6 with four singles. Salazar finished the game 3-for-6.
Cameron Ming (3-2) picked up the win in relief. Arizona starter Nathan Bannister gave up three earned runs during his six innings on five hits with five strikeouts and a walk.
The loss spoiled a two-homer game for Bulldog right fielder Brent Rooker. Rooker belted solo shots in the fourth and eighth innings.
State (44-18-1) finished with seven hits led by Rooker’s 3-for-4 outing with three RBIs.
“It’s just disappointing we’ve come this far and aren’t able to finish it,” Rooker said.
The Diamond Dogs managed only one run in two bases loaded opportunities.
Smith suffered the loss falling to 2-1 allowing a run on two hits with four strikeouts and a pair of walks in 2 1/3 innings.
Mississippi State starter Austin Sexton scattered seven hits through 5 1/3 innings with six strikeouts and one walk. Sexton surrendered one run on a solo homer to Bobby Dalbec in the second inning.
“I’m proud of all our guys,” Sexton said. “I thought we battled the entire game. At no point in the game did I think we were going to lose but that’s baseball and what happened, happened.”