A tale as old as baseball itself, two SEC programs have massive opportunities on Friday to carry the banner for the conference and continue a long history of success at the College World Series. Both Mississippi State and Vanderbilt have had a lot of success in Omaha over the years, but only one of those has completed the whole thing and has brought home a little hardware. This year, things are a bit different for both Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.
For the Bulldogs from Mississippi State, things look pretty dang good for this ball club as they are one win away from an appearance in the College World Series Championship round. Out of the two SEC schools left in Omaha, it’s the Bulldogs who have the best chance at winning a National Championship for the first time in school history. Not only are the Bulldogs in the best position to reach the finals, but State has the most tournament-ready roster in College Baseball. From top to bottom, there’s not a weak link on this Mississippi State roster. When you compare it to the rest of the field, it’s easy to see why the Bulldogs have become the odds on favorite to bring home a National Championship trophy to Starkville, Mississippi.
So how did Mississippi State get to this point? Well, the cardiac Bulldogs had one of the most exciting comeback victories on Tuesday night over Virginia. When all hope seemed to be lost, it was a Tanner Allen go-ahead home run in the 8th inning to push the Bulldogs into the College World Series Semi-finals, where they await the winner of the Texas and Virginia matchup from late on Thursday night.
For the Vandy boys, Friday presents yet another chance to survive and move on as the Commodores get ready to take on NC State in a must-win game to keep their season for just one more day. Like Mississippi State, Vanderbilt got to this point after a bottom of the 9th, two-out rally against Stanford on Wednesday night.
It started with a mound visit by the Stanford coaching staff with two outs in the 9th inning and ended with a wild pitch over the head of the catcher to give Vanderbilt a walk-off win and a spot in Friday’s Semi-final round.
Friday’s game between North Carolina State and Vanderbilt will be the second matchup between the two, with the first game going in favor of the Wolfpack by a score of 1-0. If Vanderbilt can find a way to win on Friday, a third game between the two will be played on Saturday night, with the winner advancing on to the Championship Round, which starts on Monday night.
No matter what happens on Friday, both programs have represented the Southeastern Conference in the best way possible. If both are fortunate to get out of this Semi-Final round this weekend, the SEC will once again prove why they belong in the conversation as the best baseball conference in America.