(Part 2 of an 8-part College World Series preview)
Led by first-round draft choice Hunter Renfroe and a stout bullpen, Mississippi State is headed to the College World Series for the first time since 2007.
Making their first appearance in Omaha under coach John Cohen, the Bulldogs (48-18) will play Oregon State (50-11) on Saturday at 3 p.m. in the opening game of the CWS.
Traveling to the Charlottesville Super Regional, Mississippi State swept No. 6 seed Virginia 11-6 and 6-5 to secure a spot in the eight-team CWS field.
Despite having only one consistent starter, the Bulldogs have held their opponents to a .224 batting average.
Kendall Graveman (7-5, 3.14) anchors the starting rotation. An eighth-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, the senior righthander has allowed 105 hits, while striking out 65 and walking 27 in 103 1/3 innings.
After choosing Graveman, the Blue Jays selected senior lefty Chad Girodo (8-0, 1.38) in the ninth round. In a staff-high appearances, Girodo has surrendered 37 hits in 45 2/3 innings, with 63 punchouts and 16 bases on balls.
Saving his best for the postseason, Girodo has allowed only seven hits, while fanning 24 and walking four in 12 innings over three appearances. In fact, he was the winning pitcher in the championship game of both the Super Regional and the Starkville Regional, a 6-1 victory over Central Arkansas.
A pair of sophomore southpaws, Jonathan Holder (2-0, 1.31, 18 saves) and Ross Mitchell (12-0, 1.35, 2 saves) have been reliable all season. Holder has held opposing batters to a .153 batting average, while recording 83 strikeouts against 15 walks. Mitchell has logged 86 2/3 innings — second on the team — over 31 outings.
Offensively, junior right fielder Hunter Renfroe leads the Bulldogs in batting average (.360), slugging (.644), total bases (152) home runs (15), RBI (61), stolen bases (9) and sacrifice flies (6). A former Copiah Academy standout, Renfroe was selected with the 13th pick of the Major League draft by the San Diego Padres. He is the 12th first-round selection in school history.
Junior shortstop Adam Frazier was the Bulldogs' hottest hitter in the Super Regional, collecting eight hits in 11 at bats. Frazier is right behind Renfroe with a .359 average, while pacing the squad in hits (102), runs (60), triples (7) and doubles (19). Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the sixth round, Frazier has amassed an SEC-leading 221 assists.