OMAHA, Neb. – Shortly after the victory of State 4 in the state of Mississippi over Texas on Sunday night, the team bus drove half a mile from TD Ameritrade Park to Hilton Omaha. When the Bulldogs arrived, hundreds of chestnut-colored fans ringing on cowbells, #HailState fans waiting to greet their heroes from winning victories. They really especially wanted to see one hero.
“Man, that lobby, that was crazy,” said the one they were yelling at, right in the state of Mississippi, Will Bednar. “I’ve been playing baseball my whole life. I play at The Dude [State’s uber-rowdy ballpark]. My brother plays in the big leagues [Pittsburgh Pirates reliever David Bednar]. But I had never seen anything like it in that hotel lobby on a Sunday night. “
No one in any College World Series game has seen anything similar to what Bednar just did in 25 years. Over six innings, he faced 21 Longhorns and hit 15, the most CWS pitcher, as Clemson’s Kris Benson also had 15 against Miami in 1996. He was relieved by the closer Landon Sims, who hit six in three innings. Their 21 Ks broke the CWS team record in a single game set by Ohio State in 1968.
With each stroke, Bednar, Sims and Mississippi moved another step towards the CWS record book and another step higher in national-sports consciousness. To the millions who watched baseball in college during these two weeks in Omaha alone, the performance was shocking. For those who follow the game all season, the state-owned Ka production line was nothing new. It was just a jump in performance in a process that was an incredibly deep mode of staff.
By the time the Bulldogs arrived in Omaha, they were already on the verge of setting an NCAA record in nine-inning attacks per season of 12.4. Now that number is 12.5. Bednar and his teammate Christian MacLeod own 128 and 113 K, respectively. The Sims have 91. All in all, the MSU roster is linked to Ole Miss for a season I record in Division 7 with 765 relegations, but the Bulldogs have as many as six games left.
During this still-new baseball era of hyper-focus around spinning speed, lack of focus on swinging small balls on a plate, and overall lack of ground sharpness due to the COVID-19 season shortened to 2020, attacks have skyrocketed college baseball. But even during this era of accumulated Ks (half a dozen teams are above the record of 9 innings before 2021), the state of Mississippi is still ahead of all others.
“It really went like a few waves, I guess that’s the best way to describe it when I think about why so many are attacking these guys this season,” said pitching coach Scott Foxhall, in just his second season in Starkville after playing at NC State, Auburn and College of Charleston.
Thanks to the NCAA’s decision to allow all players an additional year of qualifying, Foxhall entered 2021 with overcrowded staff, a handful of guys who arrived in Omaha in 2018 and ’19, joined by blue-chip recruits who didn’t played all season, like Bednar.
“In the first part of the season,” he said, “we used a lot of different guys, so we never overdid it, and if you’re a hitter, it’s a much different look than many elite talents used only in the short run. hit. “
The second wave occurred in May, when the headliners finally took center stage, just in time for post-season pressure.
“You’ve seen a lot of attacks over the last month because our top guys, starters and facilitators, have been freshly armed,” he said. “And give credit [head coach] Chris Lemonis for that. He is the general manager of games and a real big picture guy. When people may have wondered in April, ‘And why don’t they leave this guy out on the hill anymore?’ Chris had the plan in mind and stayed with it. “
Spring was the study of chemistry and sociology. As Foxhall preached his self-described mantra “Lord’s Prayer breaks the record” to command your fast balls and aggressively throw off the field out of speed for strikes, “Lemonis, hitting coach Jake Gautreau and catcher / slacker / captain Logan Tanner, kept an eye on any The natural rhythm of band composition changed COVID-19, but as stars like Bednar appeared, it turned out that the reaction of those who would probably have more options or even start in another school, supported everything without any tasks.
“We have guys from this pitching staff who I think will have great careers, a real chance to become major leagues, and we’ll look back and see that 2021 didn’t make much sense to us,” Foxhall said. “No one sulked. No one complained. If anything else, they came closer. I think I’m most proud of that.”
‘When people may have wondered in April,’ Well, why don’t they leave this guy out on the mound anymore? ‘ Chris [Lemonis, head coach] he had a plan in mind and he stuck to it. ”
Field coach Scott Foxhall
“In our practice right now, you’ve seen it as much as I have done it all the time,” Tanner said unanimously Monday afternoon after Mississippi state training at nearby Creighton University. “Our pitchers are always together, no matter where we are, you know, we’re just weird. Because they’re pitchers.”
Thanks to the rotation and rest approach, the freaks helped guide the dogs in the 11-3 run to end the regular season. After stumbling 0-2 in the SEC tournament, they set a 6-1 record in the NCAAs. Due to an early exit from the SEC tournament, they arrived in Omaha somewhat overshadowed. Despite being the 7th-seeded national seed, very few national rumors before the CWS talked about the boys from Starkville. It was all in the arsenal of All-Big 12 weapons from Texas and one or two blows by Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter enemies who are very familiar to the state of Mississippi: SEC rival Vanderbilt.
But Texas lost to the state (though it must be noted that UT added its 12 K), while Rocker struggled on his first day out against Arizona. Two days later, Leiter looked great, but eventually took the L from the unrated NC state.
In the middle of it all, Bednar rewrote the Omaha title on the throw in six innings. Sims sent that title to the printer. Now MacLeod will try to add a story Tuesday night when left-wing all-American fingers tire against Virginia. Just don’t try to frame those headlines as a team with a chip on your shoulder motivated by national disrespect.
“We don’t actually look too deeply into things like that,” Bednar said in response to the sports writer’s attempt to do just that. (OK, yeah, that was me.) “The buzz is great and all, but it doesn’t really matter if you don’t go out and perform, so that’s what I’m focusing on. That’s what we’re all focused on.”
Maintaining that focus will not be easy if the Bulldogs continue to attack and win in Omaha. Their bush will become full of noise if they can end the 12th CWS program performance by finally earning a long elusive World Series first title at the College.
“I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like,” Bednar said. “And I really can’t imagine what the lobby of our hotel would be like.”