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CWS Central | Buzz Coaching Blog
OMAHA – This year's Mississippi State team seems like something magical, and Elijah MacNamee could feel it as he patrolled the right court at the top of the ninth inning, even as his rival, Auburn, was lagging behind. .
For eight innings Sunday night against Auburn, it seemed that the Bulldogs, if they wanted to win their first national title, would have to do it out of the loser's fork. It is not an easy task against this gigantic field of four people on their side of the support.
Left-handed Jack Owen gave an excellent performance at Auburn. Edouard Julien scored for the Tigers and the AU marker did enough to keep control of the match, heading down the ninth inning with a 4-1 lead.
This magical feeling, which MacNamee had in mind at the beginning of the ninth inning, has become a reality, as he has done many times over the past two seasons with this group of players.
This sense of control did not last for the Butch Thompson Tigers. Jake Mangum, the heart and soul of this MSU team, led the way with a brace, Tanner Allen walking and MacNamee, as he has done so many times over his career, scored a doubled on the left line to score a point.
The success of MacNamee marked the beginning of a surrealist arrival. Marshall Gilbert of Mississippi State had a straightforward free-kick to beat Auburn 5-4 after the Tigers had the opportunity to close the match with Dustin Skelton. With the exception of Julien, who was the Tigers' lead early in the game, he pitched three times and sent an overhead shot over the first baseman's header to score the goal. equalizer. Rowdey Jordan was intentionally strolled, Josh Hatcher hit an infield single and Gilbert, yet another productive senior in this MSU squad, slammed the ball in the center of the match.
The Auburn players were heartbroken. Some consoled Julien as he was leaving the field. Others squatted at their position, looking stunned, hoping that all this would be a dream. They were this close to being in the slice of the winner.
Players from the state of Mississippi had the opposite reaction. They so stunned Gilbert that the celebration ended well in the right field and continued in the locker room and on the team bus. The players and coaches, especially head coach Chris Lemonis, MacNamee, Gilbert and the usual stars, were serenaded with the songs of "Maroon" and "White" as they walked through the doors of the stadium.
The sorrow of one team was the continuation of the magic of another.
"I remember actually being in the right field for the defense when Cole [Gordon] was throwing, and after having the second withdrawal, I was like a man, I have the strangest feeling of this round, "said MacNamee. "So when Jake [Mangum] went there and hit that double, I said, well, let's go.
"Coach Lemonis said that when we had this first guy, there was a bit of relief," MacNamee said. "Even though we were still behind, there was some confidence that our leader would leave. He is the best leading man in the country, so when we leave, his energy comes from him and she started to circulate throughout the team, and the result was given in the end. "
While the Bulldogs added an incredible new finish to their history books on Sunday night, the match did not seem as exciting for much of the night.
For Auburn to have a chance in this match, he would have to find a way to hit the left-footed SSU, usually unstoppable, Ethan Small, while getting a good start from left-handed Jack Owen. This plan has almost worked perfectly.
The Tigers took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning when Julien crushed a two-point home homcee over the straight court wall on a small 89 mph fastball. The home race was destroyed and the distance tied Florida's mark, Pete Alonso – 429 feet – from the 2015 World Series of the University. AU added another run in the fourth quarter as Julien won another RBI single. Meanwhile, Owen used a fastball of 88-90 mph and an effective change to maintain the balance of the MSU formation. He started five shutouts before leaving the game in the sixth after taking the striker to the front of the pack.
Auburn led the game all night … until the ninth inning.
"Hard one tonight. I thought we were playing an incredible game, "Thompson said. "We had a lot of commitment. We had a lot of fun. I thought our guys were really fighting the best pitcher of 2019 starting in college baseball. We really worked on the number of shots and of course, Edouard Julien had the first big shot and then made a third round with an RBI.
"One thing they did and did not do as well was put the ball in the game. We had Julien home run and the third set changed things. That's why I want to put the ball in play at the same pace they did, and of course the five guys we eliminated and that was not the case, "he said. "Once again, at the end of the day, I knew it would be important. But again, I thought we could have done a routine play and finished it, but we only eliminated them three times at the end of the night. And I have a lot of respect for their crime to hold. They were able to put the ball in play to extend the innings when it mattered most in the game. "
As for Mississippi State, he had a multitude of heroes in this one.
With Small having been lifted after just five innings of work, the Bulldogs needed the pen to hold the Auburn offensive long enough for the offensive to run. Riley Self kicked a scoreless frame, Jared Liebelt allowed an undeserved run in two sets and right-wing veteran Cole Gordon shot a scoreless ninth.
The pitching staff kept things on hand, and the offensive did the rest, with a little help, of course.
"You know, our message in the dugout was just to pass it on to the next guy and pass it on to the next guy, etc.," said MSU coach Chris Lemonis. "Tanner Allen had a big fight with a bat. Josh Hatcher takes the ball. You have so many things and guys competing. And Jake Gautreau did an incredible job with our attack this year, or just instilled that mill mentality, using people and putting the balls into play.
"And we were a bit frustrated tonight," he continued. "It was not really typical of us in the first few races and you can congratulate yourself. But in the ninth inning, it was us. That's what we do. "
The state of Mississippi, along with its SEC counterpart, Vanderbilt, has entered the CWS as one of the favorites for the national title for a reason. As a head coach said earlier this season, "if you want to beat the state of Mississippi, you'd better knock them out."
Tonight Auburn appeared to be in full control by entering the ninth inning. But MacNamee and other MSU players felt this magical feeling on the pitch at the start of the round. At the bottom, Jake Mangum led out of the frame with a double, and everything else fell into place. MSU found some hope and Auburn did not succeed in giving this coup de grace.
The state of Mississippi has regained its magic, and it may not happen anymore.