Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Arizona Battles Through Lafayette Losers Bracket; Super Regional Schedule Pending

The Diamond Dogs have already played one weekend against a Pac 12 visitor. But that was a regular season series with pride, record, and stats at stake. When Arizona and Mississippi State meet this weekend…it’s for real stakes. Omaha stakes, so to speak.

Arizona battled through the loser’s bracket and around wet weekend weather to knock off host and region top seed Lafayette with a pair of Monday wins. The two-seed Wildcats, last survivor from their embattled conference, provided Pac 12 pride by beating the Ragin’ Caguns 6-3 and 3-1 in a Monday doubleheader.

Their reward is staying in the southeast region and playing in the Starkville super regional against first-round regional winners and #6 national seed Mississippi State.

The NCAA said late Monday night they would announce the super regional round schedules, what series begin Friday and what others on Saturday, at around 9:00 am Tuesday. Mississippi State has been taking ticket orders for both reserved seating and general admission, and regardless of day and time five-figure crowds are forecast. This will be updated when specific information on the schedule is published.

Mississippi State took care of its first-round regional in the minimum three days. The SEC’s regular season champions outscored Southeast Missouri, then won a couple of pitching battles over Cal State Fullerton and Louisiana Tech. The weather that delayed events in Lafayette over a day only slowed Sunday’s title game by two hours fortunately.

This will be the first time since the NCAA began the current two-weekend format that Dudy Noble Field has hosted both a regional and a super regional. It is the second super-round held here, and Bulldog faithful hope it follows the pattern of 2007. That’s when State beat Clemson on consecutive days to earn its berth in the College World Series.

State has faced three Pac 12 clubs already this season. Their first road trip of the year was a weekend in Los Angeles where the Bulldogs lost at UCLA 2-1; and crossed town to defeat Southern California 8-7. A weekend later an Oregon team ranked #10 at the time came to Starkville, and left with three losses by 10-4, 9-3, 5-2 scores.

For two proud programs with lengthy NCAA Tournament histories, it’s curious that State and Arizona have never met in a post-season setting. They have played in regular seasons and Bulldog teams own a 11-5 lead since 1978. That year the programs arranged a pair of games in Jackson which were split.

Much more recently, Arizona—with former Bulldog athletic director Greg Byrne in charge there since spring 2010—came to Dudy Noble Field in 2015 for a pair of games as part of a round-robin weekend. It was a pair of Bulldog wins, too, by 4-2 and 6-2 scores.

There’s another connection for the programs. Way back in 1966 a Grand Canyon College graduate got a G.A. job with the Wildcats, just in time to work for a team which advanced to the College World Series. A decade later Ron Polk landed in Starkville as head coach and by 1979 he’d taken the Bulldogs to Omaha as well.

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