Orange Crush: Mississippi State Bracket Preview at College World Series
Mississippi State fans attending the College World Series will see plenty of orange in the stands.
There will be plenty of maroon and white in the stands at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, but each of the three opponents of the Bulldogs in their group of four will be the same color. If the state of Mississippi is to make it into the best-of-three championship series, the Dawgs will have to pass through the orange crush of Texas number 2, Tennessee number 3 and Virginia with no seeded numbers.
And just as each school brings a different shade of orange to Omaha, each one will be a different challenge for the state of Mississippi.
The Bulldogs’ journey begins at 6pm on Sunday against the Longhorns, but MSU will hit at least one of the other two opponents before the third consecutive Omaha run is completed.
Here is the book about the three opponents of the Mississippi state at the start of the 2021 CWS.
No. 2 Texas (47-15, 17-7 Big 12)
Shadow: Burnt orange
RPI: No. 5
CWS appearance: No. 37
The Longhorns swept through NCAA Regional and Super Regional, scooping double-digit runs in four of their five games. The other – Game 1 of the Supers against South Florida – was a rift in the proverbial armor as the Bulls scored three runs in the top of the ninth for a jaw-dropping comeback. But Texas flexed its muscles by running away with a win at the end of the inning and then winning 12-4 the next day to book his ticket to Omaha.
Texas, of course, faced four shutout innings, striking 10, at the State Farm College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, Texas, Mississippi on February 20. Texas lost to Arkansas and Ole Miss and finished the tournament 0-3. They’ve only lost 12 games since then, just one Big 12 series against Texas Tech, who ended up in the top eight.
Like the Bulldogs, the Longhorns have pitching and plenty of it. They lead the nation on Team ERA at 2.89 and will be a tough test for MSU’s offensive, whether Madden (2.41 ERA) or Pete Hansen (1.84 ERA, ninth in the nation) starts on Sunday.
Ivan Melendez is Texas’ best hitter with a 0.321 average, 12 homers and 46 RBIs. Zach Zubia did 57 runs in a team high.
# 3 Tennessee (50-16, 20-10 SEK)
Shadow: Tennessee orange
RPI: No. 3
CWS appearance: No. 5
The Volunteers haven’t lost a single game in Regionals or Super Regionals, despite playing in much closer games than Texas. It took a walk-off grand slam from Drew Gilbert to give the Vols an 8-9 win over Wright State in the Knoxville Regional opener, and they won the Regional with a 3-1 win over Liberty before that they beat LSU 4: 2 in game. defeated 1 of the Super Regionals. In Game 2, however, Tennessee beat the Tigers with 12 hits and 15 runs.
The Vols have played 66 games, three more than anyone in the nation, and they used that extra time on the field to increase offensive production. They’re just behind No. 5 Arizona, another CWS contender, in the total number of bases, and their slugging percentage of .477 ranks 23rd in the country. Thanks to a strong bullpen and three solid starters – Blade Tidwell (3.57 ERA), Will Heflin (4.07) and Chad Dallas (4.10), they are also the country’s eighth in the ERA with 3.42.
Tennessee beat Mississippi State in the two teams’ solitary encounter, an SEC tournament playoff game at the Hoover Met on May 27. The Vols sent the Bulldogs home with a 12-2 run rule win, scoring three or more runs against Christian MacLeod. Will Bednar and Sims while Dallas threw 6.2 innings.
Virginia (35-25, 18-18 ACC)
Shadow: Rotunda orange
RPI: No. 28
CWS appearance: No. 5
The Cavaliers are one of two unset teams that made it to the College World Series, despite not making it quite as dramatically as NC State. The Wolfpack upset the # 1 Arkansas in Fayetteville to stun the Razorbacks and end their season, while Virginia defeated the unseeded Dallas Baptist team in three games in a super regional at a neutral location – Founders Park in Columbia, South Carolina. It was the same place that the Hoos from a No. 11 seed Old Dominion emerged hosting hosts Gamecocks and Jacksonville.
Kyle Teel’s Grand Slam in Game 3 against DBU sent Virginia to Omaha, but the Hoos’ strength lies on the other side of the ball. They rank 14th in the country with a team ERA of 3.61 and eighth with 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings (Mississippi State ranks first at 12.4). Andrew Abbott has 152 strikeouts in 100.2 innings of 3.04 ERA baseball while Zach Messenger and Matt Wyatt are key figures.
Virginia was swept by Notre Dame in Charlottesville in mid-March before beating the Irish 14-1 in the ACC tournament. The Hoos met VCU at home on May 4th and lost to the Rams 7-5.
Theo DeRosa reports on Mississippi State sport for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.