OMAHA, Neb. — Mississippi State erased decades of heartbreak with nine nearly perfect innings of baseball on Wednesday in Game 3 of the College World Series final against Vanderbilt at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.
The Bulldogs routed the Commodores 9-0 to come back and win the best-of-three series, claiming their first national championship and the first team title in any sport in school history.
“It’s a special night for all of us,” coach Chris Lemonis said.
Mississippi State faced elimination three times in the NCAA tournament — in Super Regionals against Notre Dame and twice in the College World Series, facing Texas and Vanderbilt. But on each occasion, the Bulldogs responded with phenomenal play to stay alive — and, now, claim college baseball’s biggest prize.
“It’s been a long year,” Lemonis said. “We’ve had our backs against the wall a lot of times.”
Starting pitcher Will Bednar helped the Bulldogs push away from that foreboding fence. On short rest, Bednar allowed no hits and no runs in six innings. Landon Sims pitched the final three innings, allowing just one hit.
Logan Tanner and Kellum Clark each hit home runs for Mississippi State. Rowdey Jordan and Tanner Allen, seniors playing their final games as Bulldogs, combined for five hits as MSU knocked Vanderbilt ace Kumar Rocker from the game in the fifth inning.
Mississippi State beat Samford, VCU and Campbell in the Starkville Regional, then took two of three games from Notre Dame in Super Regionals. The Bulldogs won their first two CWS games against Texas and Virginia, then lost to the Longhorns before beating them again in Saturday’s bracket final.
Vanderbilt won Game 1 of the championship series 8-2, but Mississippi State responded with a 13-2 rout on Tuesday.
And on Wednesday, the Bulldogs were at their best again to claim the long-awaited national title.
“This is a lot of years in the making and a lot of fun,” Lemonis said. “I know our fans will enjoy this.”
Theo DeRosa reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.