By John L. Pitts/NEMS Daily Journal
CORINTH – The surprising run of the Mississippi State baseball team – now just three victories from an improbable national title – is the kind of story that reminds me what attracted me to sports and newspapers in the first place.
It’s always something.
There are plenty of days at work that threaten to be wholly predictable, then you get a day like Monday, when MSU beat Indiana 5-4 to put the Bulldogs in fine position to make their first appearance in the NCAA championship series.
This is the same MSU team, after all, that lost four consecutive weekend series in March and lost series to Vanderbilt and Ole Miss in April. Was anybody thinking about a NCAA tourney run at that point?
But that’s the great thing about college baseball. It’s very possible to have one team win the SEC regular season, another one win the SEC Tournament and yet a third team win a national title.
That’s happened as recently as 2011.
For days now, people keep asking me what’s going to happen in Omaha. “They’ll play at least nine innings,” is the best I can come up with. In a season when the team I thought was clearly the best – Vandy – is home, watching the College World Series on TV, anything can happen.
Just ask North Carolina and LSU, two great teams, which found themselves playing a knockout game on Tuesday. It’s one of those years.
We’ll all spill a lot of ink this week trying to explain how Mississippi State has done what they’ve done to this point. Win or lose, it has turned into a magical season over the past five weeks.
Cohen was right
And it proves that Bulldogs coach John Cohen wasn’t blowing smoke when he insisted in 2010, after two losing seasons in Starkville, that he had the program on the right path.
Of course, what else was he going to say? But he was right.
Look what he’s done since then – a super regional appearance in 2011, an SEC tourney title in 2012 … and now this. All backed by a fan base that has produced, in MSU’s years of prominence, the 10 biggest on-campus college baseball crowds.
Three more wins, by the way, would give him 500 for his career. Wouldn’t it be epic if he did that on the biggest stage of all?
John L. Pitts (firstname.lastname@example.org) is sports editor of the Daily Journal.