By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
OMAHA, Neb. – Mississippi State, national champions.
Those words have never been strung together, but that can change this week as the Bulldogs face UCLA in the College World Series finals. Game 1 of the best-of-three series is at 7 p.m. today on ESPN.
MSU (51-18) has never won a national championship in any sport, and this is the baseball team’s first trip to the finals. The Bulldogs got here by winning the Starkville Regional, the Charlottesville Super Regional and then starting 3-0 in the CWS for the first time in program history.
State has won 15 of its last 18 games.
“It’s something that we still have some work to do,” MSU pitcher Kendall Graveman said. “It’s not over.”
MSU will be the home team for today’s game, as well as for Game 3, if it is necessary. It’s certainly been right at home at TD Ameritrade Park, beating Oregon State twice and Indiana once to reach the title series.
UCLA (47-17) defeated LSU, N.C. State and North Carolina. This is the Bruins’ second appearance in the CWS finals, having lost to South Carolina in 2010.
MSU and UCLA are both trying to not get caught up in what might be, instead focusing on what it takes to make that elusive national title a reality.
“The minute your brain goes into what happens next … you’re starting to lose your perspective of what got you here,” MSU coach John Cohen said. “It’s kind of like a chess game – whoever loses that perspective first is going to have a disadvantage in this series.”