OMAHA, NEB. — In the decisive Game 3 of the 2021 Men’s College World Series finals, Mississippi State battered Vanderbilt by a score of 9-0 and in doing so claimed the Division I national championship. It’s the first national championship for Mississippi State in any team sport. As for Vanderbilt, they came up one game short in their bid to repeat as national champions. They won the College World Series in 2019, and in 2020 the tournament was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Game 3 of the best-of-three finals carried with it the promise of a legendary pitchers duel, but only one of the starting pitchers lived up to that pregame ballyhoo. On the mound for Vandy was junior right-hander Kumar Rocker, a likely top 10 pick in the upcoming MLB draft and the Most Outstanding Player of the 2019 CWS. Opposing him was Bulldogs right-hander Will Bednar, a draft-eligible redshirt freshman who has a shot at going late in the first round. Earlier in this CWS, Bednar struck out 15 Texas Longhorns.
For Rocker, though, he endured uncharacteristic and untimely struggles. Consistent fastball velocity has been an issue for Rocker all season, and in the first he was generally sitting at 93 — i.e., well below his peak velo. He allowed a run on a sac fly, but the opening frame could’ve been worse for Rocker and the Commodores if not for a generous zone from plate umpire Perry Costello.
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Rocker worked slowly and was warned for violating the pitch clock in the first inning. In the second inning, he was penalized a ball for a second delay violation. In that second inning, he wound up walking two, giving up a double, and permitting two more runs. Things unraveled in the fifth when four of the first five hitters in the MSU lineup singled off Rocker to push the lead to 5-0. After that fourth single of the frame by catcher Logan Tanner, Rocker’s night was over. He wound up allowing five runs — four earned — on six hits in 4 ⅓ innings. He struck out six and walked two. In the seventh, Tanner and MSU DH Kellum Clark homered off reliever Chris McElvain to make the score 9-0 in favor of the eventual champs.
Faring vastly better — legendarily so — was Bednar. He overcame some early control problems and then showed the skill and command of three pitches that may make him a future member of a big-league rotation. In particular, he had his slider working:
Bednar issued a pair of free passes in the first, but was able to induce a 6-4-3 double play with one out and keep Vandy off the board. After allowing a leadoff walk in the second, Bednar proceeded to retire 15 straight to end what turned out to be an unforgettable night on the mound. In the end, Bednar twirled six hitless innings without allowing a run. Along the way, he struck out four, walked three, and induced nine ground-outs thanks to his ability to get swings on pitches out of and at the margins of the zone. The biggest pitching performance in program history capped a dominant 2021 CWS for Bednar:
Those numbers include a pair of starts against Texas earlier in the CWS, and, yes, that’s five hits allowed in 18 ⅓ innings. Not surprisingly, Bednar was named Most Outstanding Player for the 2021 CWS.
After Bednar’s six no-hit innings, relief ace Landon Sims, working on four days of rest, brought it home for Mississippi State with three scoreless frames. With one out in the eighth, Sims allowed the first and only Vanderbilt hit of the game, a clean single to left-center by shortstop Carter Young.
With the Game 3 outcome, national champion Mississippi State finishes the year at 50-18 under third-year coach Chris Lemonis. Tim Corbin and runner-up Vanderbilt fall to 49-18.
new source: cbssports