STARKVILLE -- An offense that carried Mississippi State through 61 games and a Regional appearance was its downfall in Game 1 of Friday's Super Regional against Arizona.
MSU managed just three hits off of Wildcat starter Bobby Dalbec, the team's regular third baseman, and were shutout for the first time since the first weekend of the season in a 1-0 loss.
It put the home team in a 0-1 whole needing two wins in two days to punch its ticket to the College World Series in Omaha.
It was a good enough
performance for MSU ace Dakota Hudson less than 24 hours after becoming a first round pick in the MLB Draft.
Hudson threw 6 1/3 innings giving up seven hits and just one run while striking out six batters in likely his final game as a Bulldog at Dudy Noble Field.
"I'm never going to forget the one pitch I didn't execute," Hudson said of his performance. "Being at Mississippi State, in front of these fans, it's something. I felt like my performance is a little less than what I wanted it to be."
Daniel Brown threw 2 2/3 innings of perfect baseball in relief with three strikeouts giving MSU a chance in the game.
Both starting pitchers worked out of some base runners through the middle part of the game and kept it scoreless, but Arizona finally came through situationally in the sixth.
With two outs and a man on base, J.J. Matijevic doubled to left field to bring in a runner around the bases.
"We probably want that ball back," head coach John Cohen said. "That's one swing out of how ever many there were in the course of the game."
Dalbec effectively shut down the Bulldogs during that time as MSU saw 11-straight batters go down through the seventh inning keeping them off the board.
Reliever Daniel Brown blew through the three batters he faced in the top of the eighth with three strikes giving MSU some life in the dugout.
That was until the power blew at Dudy Noble Field causing a 37-minute delay.
The 12,913 fans attempted to rally the team coming to their feet and working on Dalbec.
MSU responded with a leadoff man in Jack Kruger getting hit by pitch but had three-straight outs. That would prove to be the story of the night with one of MSU's worst offensive performances coming at the worst of times.
State had just two hits after the third inning and were shutout for the first time since the Florida Atlantic game on February 20, the third game of the season.
The Bulldogs scratched just five hits in the game striking out 10 times. Dalbec (10-4) was resilient in his 8.2 innings pitched for the Wildcats. After being drafted by the Boston Red Sox earlier in the day as a third baseman, he was filthy on the mound shutting out the Bulldogs and striking out nine.
"I thought Bobby Dalbec pitched really well," Cohen said. "He was really tough for our guys to see and we knew that from the scouting report. When we took good swings, we didn't get hits. Hats off to (Dalbec). He was the difference in the ball game."
Cameron Ming earned his second save of the season striking out Jake Mangum to end the game in the ninth.
Matijevic was the game's only multi-hit performer finishing 2-for-4 with the only run batted in with his RBI double in the sixth.
The Wildcats hold the major upper hand in the series despite MSU's home field advantage. Arizona will be Saturday's home team in the game and will likely throw ace Nathan Bannister who led them to the super regional round with two wins in the University of Louisiana regional last weekend.
As for the Bulldogs, it's now or never and Cohen expects his team to respond at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
"There's no question the stakes are high right now," Cohen said. "I believe that our kids can come back and win two games. I think our kids are excited about it and I think they view it as an opportunity and that's why their Southeastern Conference champions."