WICHITA, KAN. — Edward Easley will fly to Arizona today.
He’ll sign a contract, and when the ink dries, he will be a professional baseball player in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.
In case the former Mississippi State catcher needs any leverage for negotiating a signing bonus, he got it Wednesday when he won the Johnny Bench Award as the top catcher in college baseball.
“It is, for a fact, the most exciting news I’ve ever received in my life,” said Easley, who helped lead MSU to the College World Series earlier this month. “Catching is what I love to do. It’s what I love to do to help my team win. To be a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award is just a great honor, and to finally be picked is just a great honor.”
OMAHA, Neb. — With the possibility of its season coming to an end, the University of Louisville baseball team came out swinging again, rolling 12-4 over Mississippi State in a losers’ bracket game of the College World Series.
The Cardinals scored eight runs in the first four innings, scored in six of nine innings, hit four home runs and had eight players record at least one hit.
And then there was starting pitcher Justin Marks. The Big East Freshman of the Year turned in a gutsy performance before 18,187 fans at Rosenblatt Stadium.
OMAHA, NEB. — Some 24 hours prior to Sunday’s game, Chad Crosswhite was the life of the party.
At a Saturday afternoon picnic in nearby Papillion, he had teammates rolling with his descriptions of them, one by one. He is, after all, the team comedian.
But oh, what a difference a day makes.
The sophomore right-hander spoke softly and shook his head Sunday afternoon, moments after Louisville finished its 12-4 win over Mississippi State in a College World Series elimination game in front of an announced 18,187 at Rosenblatt Stadium.
Crosswhite was disappointed in himself for lasting just 2 1/3 innings, giving up five runs and hanging more pitches over the plate than he cared to remember.
“Well, there’s not very much to say,” Crosswhite said, when asked to describe his outing. “I was disappointed in myself. It’s not the way you wanted to start off a game you want to win.”
Rice 15 Louisville 10
The Louisville Cardinals jumped out to an early 5-0 victory but the Rice Owls were able to come back and win a wild game 15-10. Aaron Luna led the Owls by going 2-4 with three RBI. Rice reliever Bobby Bramhall pitched the final two innings without giving up a run to get the victory and up his record to 7-2. Louisville was led on offense by Logan Johnson who picked up two hits while driving in three runs. Cardinals closer Trystan Magnuson got rocked in his only inning of work as he let up six runs as he got the loss to drop his record to 3-3. Louisville will play an elimination game on Sunday against Mississippi State at 2 pm while Rice will play North Carolina at 7 pm.
UNC 8 Mississippi State 5
The North Carolina Tar Heels erased a 4-0 deficit with eight runs in the fourth and sixth innings combined as the Tar Heels picked up a 8-5 victory over Mississippi State. UNC starter Robert Woodard struggled in only 1.2 innings as he let up four runs on seven hits. Adam Warren relieved Woodard and gave the Tar Heels 4.1 scoreless innings while only giving up three hits and a walk. Warren’s record goes to 11-0. Andrew Carignan pitched the final inning to get his 16th save of the year. Chad Flack led the UNC offense by going 3-4 with a RBI. Justin Pigott started for the Bulldogs as he gave up six runs in 5.1 innings as he got the loss to put his record at 7-7. Mitch Moreland led the Bulldogs offense by going 2-4 with a homer. UNC plays Rice on Sunday at 7 pm and Mississippi State plays Louisville at 2 pm.
Mississippi State Recap
OMAHA, NEB. — The move to flip-flop starting pitchers for the first two games of the College World Series was done to help out both pitchers and his team, Mississippi State coach Ron Polk said.
Polk thinks Justin Pigott, a left-hander who thrives on location and movement, will be more successful tonight against a North Carolina team that will bat four or five left-handers.
He also thinks Chad Crosswhite, a hard-throwing right-hander, will benefit the team against Rice or Louisville, which MSU will play Sunday.
Pigott thinks the key for him will be getting ahead in counts against the Tar Heels.
“Get offspeed early in the counts, they swing early,” he said.
OMAHA, NEB. — Joseph McCaskill and Connor Powers sat side-by-side in red seats Thursday morning at Rosenblatt Stadium, observing and soaking in the sun-drenched spectacle all around them.
The spartan concourses crawled with fans, most of them of the four feet-tall variety, armed with Sharpies and all sorts of things to sign. A cacophony of pings was the backdrop, as the Carolina blue-clad players took their cuts framed in green grass.
In front, a huge Jumbotron. Behind, the famed press box that rises up on old-school steel girders. All around, the sights and smells of college baseball’s most famed venue.
This, after all, is Omaha. And State (38-20) is here, playing North Carolina (53-13) today at 6 p.m. in an opening-round College World Series game.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs (41-23) head to Omaha with a perfect record in the NCAA Tournament. They opened the tournament in the Tallahassee Regional with victories over Stetson (6-3) and defeated the host Florida State twice by scores of 3-0 and 9-4. The Bulldogs followed that up by heading home to host the Clemson Tigers in which they swept the Tigers behind a solid offense with victories of 8-6 and 8-5. Mississippi State is led by head coach Ron Polk who is making his sixth appearance with Mississippi State in Omaha and his eighth in his glorious 34 year career. Mississippi State is led by a solid offense which is headlined by Brandon Turner. He is hitting .397 on the year. Edward Easley has hit a team leading 12 homers on the year. Justin Pigott leads the pitching staff as he shut down the FSU offense for seven innings in the 3-0 shutout victory in the NCAA Regionals and pitched six effective innings in the Super Regional clincher over Clemson. Aaron Weatherford has become the shut down closer for the Bulldogs in the NCAA tournament as he has a season ERA of 3.20. The Bulldogs will be a tough out in Omaha behind the strong hitting that they possess and they have the genius coaching of Ron Polk on the bench.
MSU CWS Notes
STARKVILLE — In the middle of Saturday afternoon, the Bulldogs leapt one on the other, piling near the pitcher’s mound as 13,715 fans screamed.
A week earlier, they were in their hotel rooms, putting on uniforms, readying to face the hot-hitting No. 6 national seed Florida State and its ace pitcher, Bryan Henry.
They had beaten Stetson, yes. But to much of the outside world, the Bulldogs were still an unknown, a team of question marks that ended the year losing eight of 10.
Which makes the celebration, the trip to the College World Series, all the more remarkable for its dizzying ascent. Consider what the Bulldogs did in a week’s time – or more precisely, six days, 20 hours, 22 minutes:
The Mississippi State Bulldogs advanced to the College World Series with an 8-5 victory over Clemson which clinched the sweep for MSU. The Bulldogs used a four run second inning in which they got four hits and took advantage of a Tiger error to take control of the game with a 5-2 lead. St. Louis Cardinal second round draft pick David Kopp started for the Tigers but was lit up for five runs (two earned) in 1.2 innings. He ended up getting credited with the loss to end his season with a 6-3 record. Bulldog starter Justin Pigott got the start and went six innings while giving up five runs (four earned) to up his record to 7-6. Mitch Moreland was able to get the final two outs of the game with the tying run up to bat to get his second save of the season. Clemson ends the season with a 41-23 and the Bulldogs will head to Omaha to take part in the College World Series.
Mississippi State Recap
The Mississippi State Bulldogs picked up an 8-6 victory over the Clemson Tigers in the opening game of their Super Regional match-up. The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning after Wilson Boyd led off the inning by reaching on an error by Jet Butler. Boyd was put in motion on the basepaths as Marquez Smith hit the ball where the second base would have been to put runners on the corners with no outs. Andy D’Alessio then proceeded to single to center to drive home Boyd and put runners on the corners again. Taylor Harbin then hit a sacrifice fly to right field to give the Tigers the 2-0 lead. Mississippi State then responded in the fifth inning with a two run homer from Connor Powers to tie the game at 2. In the top of the sixth inning, Marquez Smith got a lead-off walk and brought home on a homer from Andy D’Alessio to give the Tigers the 4-2 lead but the Tigers were not done as they tacked on another run to give them a 5-2 lead after 5.5 innings. The Bulldogs would come right back with a big rally in the bottom of the sixth which was started by a lead-off double by Joseph McCaskill. He was brought home by Edward Easley on a single to left field. Mitch Moreland then hit a two run homer to center field to tie the game at 5. Brandon Turner would follow with a double in the left-center gap which was followed by an error by J.D. Burgess putting runners on first and third. The Tigers would finally take out starter Daniel Moskos for Stephen Clyne. He promptly got Russ Sneed to hit into a double play which allowed the lead runner to score and give the Bulldogs a 6-5 lead. The Bulldogs tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the seventh on three hits as the Bulldogs led 8-5. Doug Hogan hit a homer in the top of the eighth to get the Tigers within two runs but they would not get closer.
The teams will be back in action at noon on Saturday.
Mississippi State Recap