How Mississippi State's fan base is fueling the Bulldogs' thrilling run at the College World Series
OMAHA, Neb. — TD Ameritrade Park was transformed into Dudy Noble North on Saturday night, with a majority of the 24,758 on hand wearing maroon and many clutching bananas.
It paid off in a 1-0 walk-off victory against Washington on the first day of the College World Series.
Mississippi State's fan base will try to recreate that same atmosphere Monday night as the Bulldogs attempt to remain in the winner's bracket against North Carolina at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
"I give our fans a ton of credit and I credit them again for (Saturday) night," said MSU interim head coach Gary Henderson. "That was a home game for the Bulldogs in Omaha, Nebraska. I think our kids consistently feel our fans, feed off of them and we appreciate them a great deal. Our fans are awesome and we have the best fans in college baseball."
The winner of Monday's contest will be off until Friday, while the loser will turn around and play an elimination game on Wednesday.
MSU (38-27) will send junior left-hander Konnor Pilkington to the mound tonight searching for his first win since April 7. Pilkington (2-6, 4.56 ERA) is hoping to piggyback off the outing Ethan Small enjoyed Saturday night against Washington.
"When you go seven scoreless, that's a tough act to follow," Pilkington said. "Ethan and I go hand-in-hand and we talk about different strategies. We have the same mindset on the mound and we base each other's performance off of one another."
State wants to have more offensive production that it did in the first game. The Bulldogs had 10 hits but only managed one run. The four freshmen in the lineup -- Rowdey Jordan, Tanner Allen, Justin Foscue and Jordan Westburg -- combined for a 0 for 15 showing against the Huskies.
"I think it was just a good pitcher," Jordan said. "I don't think we were sped up or overwhelmed. A good pitcher just got to us and we couldn't do nothing with him."
Offense was not a problem for North Carolina (44-18) in the opener and hasn't been during the NCAA tournament. The Tar Heels are averaging 9.3 runs during their six-game sweep through the tournament so far and have scored seven or more runs in five of those contests.
"We have seemed to have hit our offensive stride here since the NCAA tournament began and I've gotta give credit to our kids," said Tar Heels coach Mike Fox. "They listened and they've bought in. They know it takes all of them to help us score those runs and it is a little bit contagious as well."
North Carolina plans to pitch sophomore right-hander Austin Bergner Monday. In a dozen starts and 16 appearances, Bergner has posted a 7-2 record with a 4.28 ERA, 76 strikeouts and 33 walks over 75 2/3 innings.
Mississippi State is 1-4 all-time against North Carolina, with the Tar Heels winning the last meeting 8-5 during the 2007 College World Series.
This article is written by Logan Lowery from Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.