The final spot in the NCAA baseball tournament Super Regional pairings was filled late Monday night when the Stanford Cardinal held on to defeat Fresno State by a score of 9-7 in a winner take all regional final.
The Cardinal battled back out of the loser's bracket and had to win four games in three days in order to keep their Omaha dreams alive. All told, Stanford won a pair of games against Sacramento State and two of three games against a very gritty Fresno State squad that looked to be in control of the regional once Saturday's games were final.
Stanford will now pack their bags and prepare to travel to Starkville, Mississippi to take on number six national seed Mississippi State. The Bulldogs clinched their regional on Sunday evening in the third Bulldog game of the weekend. As the host team, the Bulldogs were able to secure victories over each of the other Starkville regional participants, Central Michigan, Miami and Southern.
Mississippi State is 0-2 all-time against Stanford with both meetings coming in the post season. In 1990, the Cardinal eliminated the Bulldogs from the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska with a 6-1 win. In 1996, Stanford won a winner's bracket game over Mississippi State as the host team in an NCAA regional, 8-6.
For the first time in program history, Mississippi State will face Stanford at Dudy Noble Field. The Cardinal is a strong 17-4 on the road this season and lost only one weekend series all season. Top seeded UCLA took two of three from Stanford as part of the Pac-12 conference scheduling.
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Four of the eight super regional series will begin on Friday with the remaining four getting underway on Saturday. The final pairings will compete in a best two of three series with a spot in the final eight in Omaha on the line. Mississippi State will learn their weekend schedule on Tuesday.
Mississippi State has advanced to Omaha twice in the past six seasons reaching the national final in 2013. The 2018 season ended with the Bulldogs falling to eventual national champion Oregon State in the final game of bracket play.
Stanford has not appeared in Omaha since 2008, but has a pair of national championships to their credit, 1987 and 1988. Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams and instituted the super regional format, Stanford has made the field in Omaha five times, while Mississippi State has made the trip three times in the same time period.
One program will add to their rich tradition this weekend with another appearance in the College World Series, while the other one will season their season end. Tickets for reserved seating are expected to be sold out within minutes, but standing room only tickets can be purchased all the way up to game day.