OMAHA – Mississippi State (46-16) starting pitcher Will Bednar entered tonight’s game versus No. 2 overall seed Texas (47-16) with a K/9 of 13.7. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, that statistic improved and the Horns’ rallying cry of “Remember the Arlington” took on the exact opposite meaning than they hoped in a 2-1 loss to open their stay in Omaha.
Bednar struck out 16 Longhorns across 6.0 innings, a truly absurd level of dominance. The future first-round pick overwhelmed Texas with his unique fastball that has good spin and very good late action up in the zone. Throughout Bednar’s outing, Longhorn hitters repeatedly couldn’t catch up and get on the right plane to Bednar’s heater. He then handed Landon Sims a 2-0 lead. Sims looked invincible during the seventh and eighth innings, but he looked fatigued in the ninth inning as his pitch count climbed. Texas responded by showing some life offensively for the first time all game.
Mike Antico jumped all over a 1-0 fastball and smashed a solo homer way out to right-center field. Ivan Melendez kept the game alive by lining the 11th pitch of the at-bat into left field for a single and Cam Williams followed by shortening his swing on 0-2, after two walk-off hacks, to line a single into center field. But Douglas Hodo, who looked unusually shaky, grounded out after using a defensive swing on a 2-0 pitch.
Ty Madden deserved better. On the sport’s biggest stage, the right-hander delivered one of his best starts of his Texas career. He gave up just two runs across 7.0 innings on four hits, two walks and he struck out 10. Early, Madden showed some of his best fastball command of the season and worked the pitch to both sides of the plate effectively, which allowed his at times dominant slider to rack up swings and misses.
“I knew from the start, felt good in my legs and changeup was really working,” responded Madden when asked how he felt and when he knew he’d have a really good outing. “And I think that’s kind of the most I’ve thrown it this year. And people haven’t really been able to see it, and this was a more dominant left-handed lineup that I haven’t really faced too much. So, I think it was the most I’ve used my changeup all year. But from the get-go, I felt pretty solid. And the slider I knew after the first pitch I threw in the game that it had great depth. Especially with that shadow early it was going to be tough to see that spinner.”J
ust as importantly, Madden used a first-pitch changeup often to lefties and had success with the pitch he typically doesn’t feature a ton. In what was perhaps his last start at Texas, Madden showed his full arsenal and deserved to end today’s game the winner. In fact, a good argument can be made Hodo could have caught a two-out fly ball down the right field line, which resulted in a run-scoring triple in the top of the fourth inning. That was the only inning Mississippi State scored a run.
“I still believe in this team. And I think everybody here does. We’re not done yet,” said Madden before adding what his message to the fans would be. “Just keep believing in us. We’ve done it all year. We’ve won in multiple ways. And, like I said, this team’s not done and we’re going to keep rolling. I still have faith in us. And y’all should as well.”
The Longhorns will have a day to regroup after setting a College World Series record for strikeouts in a game with 21…
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