The Associated Press
STARKVILLE, Miss. —
Hunter Renfroe had three hits and two RBIs, Alex Detz and Adam Frazier each added two hits and Mississippi State easily beat Central Arkansas 6-1 on Monday night to win an NCAA regional championship.
Mississippi State (46-18) scored in four of the first six innings thanks to timely hitting and three errors by Central Arkansas (42-22).
“We got the timely hits — the two-out hits,” Mississippi State coach John Cohen said. “That seems to be our trademark. It’s something that we’ve excelled at when we’re going good this season.”
It’s the second time in three seasons Mississippi State has advanced to the super regional round. The Bulldogs will travel to face No. 6 national seed Virginia.
Mississippi State’s Chad Girodo (7-1) pitched 6 2-3 innings of stellar relief, striking out a career-high 12 batters. It was the longest outing — by far — of the senior’s season. He gave up one run on five hits and two walks.
“He just did a masterful job,” Cohen said. “He was exactly what we needed tonight.”
It was the sixth time the teams had played each other this season. Central Arkansas won three of the first five — including on Sunday to force Monday’s winner-take-all game — but the Bulldogs were nearly flawless when it mattered most.
Mississippi State jumped on top with two runs in the first inning and never trailed.
Central Arkansas had several opportunities to score early in the game, but left the bases loaded in the third and fourth inning. After that, Girodo didn’t allow much. The left-hander’s sweeping slider and pinpoint fastball had the Bears flailing at pitches all night.
“I knew I had to go first-pitch strike with a club like Central Arkansas because they’ll take until they get one,” Girodo said. “I had to fill up the zone and tried my best to miss the barrel.”
Bryce Biggerstaff (6-5) took the loss for the Bears, giving up five runs in 3 2-3 innings. The right-hander was coming off short rest, having thrown 74 pitches Saturday in a win against Mercer.
Central Arkansas managed just six hits and struck out 17 times. Garrett Brown led the Bears with two hits.
Coach Allen Gum said his team simply ran into a really good pitcher.
“(Girodo) was tough tonight — he was incredible,” Gum said. “He had the right stuff. He kept our (lefties) off balance. My hat is off to Mississippi State.”
It was quite a run for Central Arkansas, which won three games in the Starkville Regional before finally falling Monday. The Bears were the only No. 4 seed in this year’s tournament to advance to a regional final.