Mississippi State first baseman Wes Rea received a reminder from back home a couple of days ago that gives him a sense of what's at stake over the next few days in Omaha.
Rea's buddy works for a seed company in Starkville, Miss. He and some co-workers were busy in the fields when the Bulldogs locked up their spot in the College World Series championship final with Friday's win over Oregon State.
“He called me after we won and said he looked across the cornfield and everybody was jumping around, going crazy,'' Rea said. “That is the kind of thing people are doing back home.''
Rea and his teammates want to give Bulldog Nation even more reason to celebrate. Two wins in the best-of-three series against UCLA that begins Monday night at TD Ameritrade Park would give Mississippi State its first national championship in any sport.
This is uncharted territory for the Bulldogs, who have never won more than two games in their eight previous trips to Omaha. That keeps coach John Cohen, a member of Mississippi State's 1990 CWS team, from trying to gauge the impact that two more victories could have on his program and his university.
“Who would it not mean a lot to?'' Cohen said. “There are around 300 Division I schools, and I feel great about the fact that we are one of the last two standing. Neither one of us is satisfied with that.
“But the minute your brain goes into what happens next or three or four days from now, you're starting to lose perspective of what got you here. It's kind of like a chess game; whoever loses that perspective is going to have a disadvantage in this series.''
The Bulldogs have won eight of nine games in the NCAA tournament to raise their record to 51-18. Three of the wins have come in Omaha: Mississippi State opened bracket play with come-from-behind victories over Oregon State and Indiana.
The Bulldogs clinched their spot in college baseball's final series with a 4-1 win over Oregon State on Friday. The fact that Cohen used his No. 1 starter, Kendall Graveman, in the first and third games could be seen as a disadvantage for Mississippi State.