By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
OMAHA, Neb. – Mississippi State made some history on Friday, but it’s got designs on making even bigger history next week.
The Bulldogs defeated Oregon State, 4-1, at TD Ameritrade Park to advance to the championship series for the first time in program history. The best-of-three series against UCLA begins Monday at 7 p.m., with Game 2 set for Tuesday and Game 3, if necessary, for Wednesday.
All three games can be seen on ESPN.
“We didn’t come here to come in second place, we didn’t come here to come in third place. We came here to win it, and every other team here came here to win it,” relief pitcher Ross Mitchell said.
“We’re not done yet.”
In its ninth trip to Omaha, MSU rolled through its bracket, starting 3-0 here for the first time, including a pair of 5-4 wins over Oregon State and Indiana.
Hunter Renfroe’s three-run home run in the fifth inning gave the Bulldogs (51-18) enough separation for the pitching staff to finish off the Beavers (52-12) on Friday in front of 18,868.
Senior pitcher Kendall Graveman (8-5) tossed 52⁄3 innings for the win in what could be his last start as a Bulldog. Oregon State freshman Andrew Moore (14-2) lasted just 42⁄3 innings, his shortest start of the year.
This is the first time MSU will compete for a major NCAA Division I championship in any sport. Fifth-year head coach John Cohen said he’ll ponder the historical impact of this CWS run later on, but right now he’s too honed in on getting ready for next week.
Graveman echoed that sentiment.
“It’s exciting and all that, but it hasn’t set in to me yet, either,” Graveman said. “We’ve still got business to take care of.”
This will mark the sixth consecutive year the SEC has a team in the championship series. LSU won it in 2009, while South Carolina claimed the title in both 2010 and ’11.