Jun 10, 2013; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs players celebrate on the field after their game against the Virginia Cavaliers during the Charlottesville super regional of the 2013 NCAA baseball tournament at Davenport Field. The Bulldogs won 6-5 and advanced to the College World Series. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
It had been far too long since Mississippi State had made it to Omaha.
On June 10, the Bulldogs punched their ticket to get back to the College World Series. The baseball team has been the jewel of the athletics program at Mississippi State, so it has been especially difficult for Mississippi State fans to see their beloved baseball team struggle so mightily since the turn of the century.
Ron Polk had a few good years after he was hired to come back to the team as head coach, but the last few years he only succeeded in driving the team into the ground, despite an appearance in the College World Series in 2007. The Cohen years were slow going at first, but the Bulldogs returned to the NCAA tournament in 2011 and 2012, and brought high expectations for the team as they entered the 2013 season.
There were some bumps in the road, but the team compiled a 16-14 season in SEC play behind stellar pitching from the bullpen which led to a #5 seed in the SEC tournament. Post season is where this team shined.
They went 3-1 in the SEC tournament which allowed the team to become one of the host teams for the NCAA Regionals. They won their Regional despite a valiant effort from Central Arkansas, and would go on to play Virginia, the #6 overall seed for the tournament in Charlottesville.
The first game of the Super Regional was dominated by the Bulldogs 11-6. Every time the Cavaliers would make an attempt to get back in the game, the Bulldogs would respond with a rally of their own. Game 2 appeared to be a game in which Mississippi State would dominate as well. It had quite a bit more drama though.
The Bulldogs raced out to 5-1 lead before Virginia would close the deficit to 5-3 in the top half of the sixth inning. Rain would force the game to be suspended and completed the following day. The Bulldogs extended their lead to 6-3 after an RBI single in the bottom half of the 7th by C.T. Bradford. They carried that lead into the top of the 9th when the Bulldogs turned to their All-American closer Jonathan Holder.
Holder worked a 1-2-3 in the top half of the eight before running into trouble in the ninth. Virginia would get two hits, a walk, and score their fifth run on an error that could have ended the game. With runners on second and third, Holder would get Fisher to ground to third, ending the contest and sending the Bulldogs back to Omaha.
The Bulldogs have one of the best programs in the country, and it had been far too long since they had been able to celebrate any success in Omaha. The trip to the College World Series was the final validation that any who still doubted what Cohen was able to accomplish needed.