By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
OMAHA, Neb. – Indiana is known for swinging a big stick, but that won’t be nearly the only challenge facing Mississippi State today.
The No. 14 Bulldogs (49-18) resume College World Series play today at TD Ameritrade Park, with a winner’s bracket game against the No. 8 Hoosiers (49-14). First pitch is set for 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
Indiana is hitting .304 as a team with 53 home runs and averages 6.8 runs per game. It boasts one of the country’s more prolific hitters in catcher Kyle Schwarber, who’s batting .376 with 18 home runs, 54 RBIs and a .668 slugging percentage.
In Saturday’s 2-0 win over Louisville, though, the Hoosiers got a complete game from pitcher Joey DeNato and played stellar defense.
“They showed power. Obviously they showed pitching, they defended it well,” MSU coach John Cohen said. “Every part of what they do was really solid. They’re not a fluke.”
Indiana is the first Big Ten team to reach Omaha in 29 years, and this is the school’s first trip here. The Hoosiers appear right at home, and if the pitching keeps up, they could be here a while.
Their team ERA is 2.63, and DeNato’s effort assured the IU bullpen will be fresh today. MSU’s should be fine as well after using Ross Mitchell and Jonathan Holder in Saturday’s 5-4 win over Oregon State.
Depth in the pen has been a strength for MSU, and the CWS format only helps that.
“I think it helps us probably a little bit more than others, because we are so dependent on our bullpen,” Cohen said. “But I think it helps everybody.”
MSU, which will be the visiting team tonight, is looking for its first 2-0 start in the CWS since 1985, when it tied for third. That is State’s best finish ever here.