10 Biggest What Ifs in Mississippi State Sports History

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3. What if Gene Morgan hadn’t gotten injured in the 1985 College World Series?

Forever and always Mississippi State fans will talk about the 1985 baseball team. The group that featured Will Clark, Rafeal Palmeiro, Bobby Thigpen, Jeff Brantley and others who came so close to bringing State that elusive national championship. They won the SEC and then hosted a Regional where they beat out a Michigan team that featured Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.

The College World Series featured some tough breaks that cost this team ultimate glory. After winning the first two games in Omaha, they were cruising towards a victory, up 3-0 in the 5th vs. Texas, when Gene Morgan was hit in the leg by a line drive up the middle. He continued to pitch, but lost his dominant stuff and the Longhorn’s stormed back for a 12-7 victory.

Regardless of the outcome in that game with Texas, MSU was going to play Miami the next day – that’s just the way the old format was set up. But since the Bulldogs were facing elimination, Ron Polk threw Jeff Brantley on three days rest instead of saving him for the championship the following day.

Coupled with the intense heat, Brantley didn’t have his usual dominate stuff….and even though MSU was in a position to win in the 9th inning, Bobby Thigpen (who hit a grand slam in that game) gave up a walk-off home run to the Hurricanes.

If Morgan is never hit by that line drive, MSU most likely wins the game vs. Texas….and even if they lose to Miami the next day without Brantley pitching, they play either Texas or Miami in a winner take all championship game two days later with Jeff on five days rest. Just some bad luck.