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Even with Georgia traveling cross-country and Arkansas playing in Tempe, perhaps the most unlikely Regional champion candidate from the SEC was Mississippi State. The Bulldogs hadn't been to the Regions since 2007 and lost two straight at the SEC tournament to finish an unremarkable season.
All they did for an encore was sweep through the Atlanta Regional, including dropping Georgia Tech 7-3 Sunday on the Yellow Jackets' home field. The task ahead of them is daunting -- the Western Division Bulldogs now head to Gainesville to take on the SEC tournament champion Florida Gators -- but it's far better than what Mississippi State has done in recent years.
State got a great deal of help from Georgia Tech in the finals. Tech made five errors in the final game and allowed at least three runners to steal second uncontested. In fact, the Jackets seem uninterested for much of the game. But the Dogs also did their part. Nick Routt scattered six hits over nine innings while the offense took a quick lead they would never give back.
There was a time -- in the 1980s, 1990s and even the early part of the last decade -- when Regional appearances were almost a birthright for Mississippi State. That era hasn't yet resumed, but Sunday's unlikely championship was a solid start.