Officially, it took less than four hours for Mississippi State to win the game that sent them to the College World Series. Unofficially, it took closer to 22 hours from the first pitch Sunday night to the final out Monday evening. However you count it, the wait was worth it; Mississippi State is back in Omaha for the first time since 2007.
It's been kind of easy to forget about Mississippi State as it chugged along through the playoff. The other SEC teams were either national seeds (Vanderbilt and LSU), flashy or buzzworthy for another reason (South Carolina and Arkansas), or getting drummed out of the tournament relatively early (basically everyone else). Mississippi State just kept winning.
In fact, the Bulldogs have lost just twice since the beginning of the SEC tournament, once to Vanderbilt before the Commodores forgot how to play baseball this past weekend and once to a Central Arkansas team that had a history with Mississippi State and was one of the best No. 4 seeds in the NCAA field.
Not that there wasn't plenty of drama once the game resumed Monday with Mississippi State holding a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh. The Bulldogs added a run in that frame, and it ended up being the difference between victory and an even longer wait. Virginia would score two runs in the top of the ninth, an inning that featured two hits -- one an infield single -- a walk, a wild pitch and a throwing error that brought the Cavaliers to within a hit of a tie ballgame, or even the lead.
But then Jonathan Holder induced a ground out to end the game. Nothing to see here folks. Just a team that has quietly made its way to Omaha and is suddenly five wins away from its first national championship.