Mississippi State 10, Vanderbilt 6 – 11-innings
After the season the Mississippi State Bulldogs have had, what’s a little two-hour weather delay, a five-hour-plus, 11-inning game to punch a ticket to the College World Series?
The Bulldogs survived all those things, plus a three-run ninth-inning rally by Vanderbilt, to take a 10-6 victory on Sunday night and secure a date in Omaha in what has become a season of survival.
Interim coach Gary Henderson replaced the fired Andy Canizzaro in February, and now has the Bulldogs (37-27) buying into his philosophies and reaping the rewards from it.
“It’s been really unusual. It’s been at times weird. At times you’re playing the game, and some dude is heckling you from the stands, calling you Mr. Interim. That’s as awkward then as it is right now with me telling you that,” Henderson said. “I really admire our coaching staff. Those guys got on board, no hidden agenda. It was, ‘Hendu, what do we need to do?’ And I let them do it.”
Henderson’s Bulldogs responded after a slow start to the season, being 2-7 at one point in Southeastern Conference play, with everything culminating in Sunday night’s marathon win over Vanderbilt.
Tanner Allen’s double in the 11th inning drove in the go-ahead run and sparked a four-run rally as Mississippi State finally outlasted Vanderbilt to claim the World Series bid.
Allen’s line drive into the right-field corner scored pinch-hitter Josh Hatcher, who had walked to lead off the inning. Mississippi State, which will be headed to Omaha for the first time since 2013, later scored a second run when Justin Foscue drew a bases-loaded walk to drive in Rowdey Jordan, who had reached on an infield single. Luke Alexander followed with a two-run single to push the Bulldogs’ lead to four runs.
The State rally made a winner of reliever Denver McQuary (2-2), who faced just two batters. Keegan James pitched a scoreless bottom of the 11th to close the game.
Tyler Brown (1-5) took the loss for Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt (35-27) had rallied from three runs down in the ninth inning to force extra innings after Mississippi State had scored three times to take the lead in the top half of the frame..
“I’m proud of our boys. I really am,” Commodores coach Tim Corbin said. “It wasn’t a pretty baseball game, but it was a heck of a game to be a part of. There were so many big plays defensive and some big hits. That last (ninth) inning, I’ll never forget. We pieced together a heck of an inning when it looked like it was over. But at the very end there, we were just too far to come from behind.”
For Mississippi State center fielder Jake Mangum, whose RBI double in the ninth sparked the Bulldogs’ rally that had them three outs from Omaha, it was almost fitting that they had to go to extra innings after the season they have endured.
“I was thinking about that in the 10th inning. Why wouldn’t we blow a three-run lead and have to win it in extra innings? This year has been a rollercoaster,” said Mangum.
Washington 6, Cal State Fullerton 5 – 10 innings
Washington scored twice in the bottom of the 10th inning to come from behind and defeat Cal State Fullerton 6-5 on Sunday night to win the deciding game three of the super regional and advance to the College World Series.
The Huskies (35-24) reach their first CWS in school history, a program that began in 1901. Fullerton fell short of reaching it 19th CWS.
Trailing 5-4, Joe Wainhouse walked to lead off the bottom of the 10 and Jack Johnson came on to pinch run. Levi Jordan reached first when Titans reliever Brett Conine fielded Jordan’s bunt but his throw to first was wide and sailed into right field. Johnson advanced to third on the play.
AJ Graffanino then singled to short. Johnson scored on the play to tie the game at 5-5. Willie MacIver then hit a ball to short that Sahid Valenzuela couldn’t handle loading the bases.
Kaiser Weiss then hit a sacrifice fly to left scoring Jordan — the winning run.
“I really wasn’t nervous,” Weiss said. “I went up there swinging and I knew I had to square it up and put it in play.”
Huskies coach Lindsay Meggs said he knew it was going to be a tight game.
“Image having something taken from the palm of your hand twice in a half hour,” Meggs said, referring Fullerton’s comebacks. “We had two outs in the 10th and the ball goes over the fence. A lot team may have folded but our guys were up on the railing encouraging each other, you can’t ask for a better attitude than that. This has been a work in process.”
Alex Hardy (5-2) got the win and Conine (4-2) took the loss.
The Titans (36-25) erupted for three runs in the top of the ninth inning to take a 4-3 lead but the Huskies tied the score at 4-all on a one-out RBI single by Jonathan Schiffer in the bottom of the ninth.
Washington junior right hander Joe DeMers was pitching a one-hit gem until the ninth inning when he gave up four hits and three runs.
“I was little tired and wasn’t throwing as hard as I was earlier and they got a few hits in the ninth,” DeMers said. “I tried to treat it like a regular game but it’s something special to be going to Omaha.”
DeMers retired the first 18 Fullerton batters he faced. He induced 11 groundouts, struck out three and only allowed two balls to be hit to the outfield over the first six innings.
Hank LaForte notched the Titans’ only hit to that point when he led off the seventh inning with a double to right.
The Huskies took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning after Nick Kahle belted his 6th homer of the season over the left field wall to lead off the inning.
MacIver upped Washington’s lead to 2-0 after he blasted his third HR of the season to left to lead off the fifth inning.
Jordan’s two-out RBI single in the sixth inning gave Washington a 3-0 lead.
LoForte doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 3-1 in the seventh. He homered with two outs in the 10th to give the Titans a 5-4 lead.
Washington has won 10 its last 12 games.
“It was heavy weigh fight,” Fullerton coach Rick Vanderhook said. “In the 10th they put down a bunt and we didn’t execute. Then they hit two more groundballs and we didn’t execute. It was a good ball game. From where we started the season, and then to get to within one win of going to the College World series, I’m really proud of these guys.”