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SMITH COLUMN: Bulldogs join NCAA Tourney Sweet 16 party

June 8, 2011


Sports Editor

Everyone pretty much expected the Florida Gators, the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Vanderbilt Commodores to be a part of the Super Regional field this weekend.
As national seeds, No. 2 Florida, No. 4 South Carolina and No. 6 Vanderbilt were favored to take the next step to the next round.
There's a surprise Southeastern Conference team that has crashed the NCAA baseball's Sweet 16 party.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs used three impressive starting pitching performances to sweep through the Atlanta Regional and advance to a Super Regional. It's the fourth Super Regional appearance in MSU history.
It was important going into the postseason for the Bulldogs to get solid starting pitching. Did they ever get it Atlanta?
After Louis Pollorena and Caleb Reed combined to shut out Southern Mississippi 3-0 on Friday, Evan Mitchell and Daryl Norris worked through an 8-3 victory against Austin Peay on Saturday and Nick Routt went the route to beat Georgia Tech 7-3 on Sunday.
If the MSU coaching staff chooses to, and there's no reason why should break up a good thing, the starting rotation of Pollorena, Mitchell and Routt should be used again against the Gators.
The Bulldogs had Florida on the ropes in the SEC Tournament before the Gators came back for a 7-5 win.
MSU has defeated Florida this season with a 7-5 decision to open the three-game series in Starkville. The Gators also blew out the Bulldogs 18-0 in the second game of that series.
When considering the Super Regional matchup between Mississippi State and Florida, it's just unfortunate that an SEC team has to knock off another at this point of the postseason.
As a fan of the SEC baseball, it's nice to see as many teams from that conference as possible make it to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
South Carolina hosts Connecticut and Vanderbilt welcomes Oregon State to Nashville, Tenn. Both the Gamecocks and Commodores should be favored in those series.
With either the Bulldogs or Gators joining the mix, the SEC could be well-represented in the first year of TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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