Bulldogs in familiar position with backs against wall

Mississippi State's Tanner Allen (5) celebrates with teammates after scoring on a single by...
Mississippi State's Tanner Allen (5) celebrates with teammates after scoring on a single by Logan Tanner during the fourth inning against Vanderbilt in Game 1 of the NCAA College World Series baseball finals, Monday, June 28, 2021, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)(Rebecca S. Gratz | AP)
Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 5:05 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WLBT) - If you were expecting an easy championship, you may not be familiar with Mississippi State sports.

A disastrous first inning befell Mississippi State on Monday night as they moved to 0-1 against Vanderbilt in the College World Series final.

It’s a spot they’ve been before--quite recently, in fact.

Houston Harding, who’s taking the mound for Game 2, represents this fact better than anyone.

With his team trailing against Campbell in the Starkville Regional, the lefty fired five dominant innings, striking out 10 hitters en route to a Bulldogs victory.

Harding was again involved in the Super Regional round, with the Bulldogs facing elimination.

After a rout in Game 2, the Bulldogs turned to Harding in Game 3. While he started the game, it was All-American closer Landon Sims who shut the door and ended the Irish’s season.

Sims found himself closing out another elimination game less than two weeks later, as Texas rallied the night before to force a decisive final game in the College World Series.

So here is Mississippi State, once again with their backs against the wall Tuesday night.

An 8-2 victory in Game 1 came at the hands of Vanderbilt’s Jack Leiter, who many consider to be the best player in the nation.

If that wasn’t enough, the Commodores have likely-top 10 pick Kumar Rocker in the wings for a potential Game 3.

Pulling off back-to-back wins over a historically good Vanderbilt squad would mean the Bulldogs threw the kitchen sink at the Commodores. It would be a change in fortune for a school that’s never brought home a team national championship.

The likes of Sims, Tanner Allen and Rowdey Jordan will need to produce in a way that their predecessors in Clark, Palmeiro, Renfroe and Mangum were unable to. But perhaps that’s the only way this team would want it.

“If we’re going to win this thing, we’re going to have to compete,” Head Coach Lemonis told HailState.com. “We’re going to have to play tough. We’re going to have to make them earn it. We didn’t do that at times [Monday], but we’re going to do that the rest of the week.”

Nobody thought a series win over Vanderbilt would come easy. It just wouldn’t be the Mississippi State way. But if anyone’s equipped to handle the pressure, it just may be the 2021 squad.

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