Mississippi State baseball coach Chris Lemonis wasn’t shy about the legacy his seniors will leave after leading the Bulldogs to their first-ever College World Series championship.
“They’re going to be legends here,” he told ESPN following the final game on Wednesday. “These kids that have won tonight … just so much fun to get a chance to coach them. I’m so thankful. They’re wonderful kids and they’re great competitors. I’m so happy for them.”
— Mississippi State Baseball (@HailStateBB) July 1, 2021
Led by a stellar pitching performance from senior Will Bednar and another solid night at the plate from fellow senior Tanner Allen, the No. 7 Bulldogs cruised past No. 4 Vanderbilt, 9-0. Bednar and Landon Sims took a combined no-hitter into the eighth inning, and finished with a one-hitter. Bednar, who has Psalm 23:4 in his Twitter bio, was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. Psalm 23:4 reads, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) July 1, 2021
On offense, the Bulldogs tagged Vanderbilt starter and project top-five MLB draft pick Kumar Rocker for six hits and five runs through the first five innings Wednesday, and then added four more in the seventh inning to put the game on ice.
Allen, the SEC Player of the Year, went 2-for-5 with a run scored. He finished the season hitting a team-best .383, and was named to the All-Tournament Team. On Tuesday, he was also named the American Baseball Coaches Association National Player of the Year.
In speaking with the media after winning the championship, Allen praised God.
“This team overcame everything, man,” he said. “From getting swept at home in front of 10,000 versus Arkansas, to Missouri coming in and taking a series from us, and then getting embarrassed at the SEC Tournament, we just kept playing, and kept playing and playing. You blink an eye, we’re national champions. God is so good.”
When asked why he and his teammates seemed so relaxed despite the pressure of playing in a championship game, Allen said they let God be in control.
“We just take it one pitch at a time. We’re locked in. We knew what was at stake. We knew going into this game we had opportunity to do something that had never been done. And we just came together and played with each other. And left it all on the field and let God take over, man. And like I said, we’re national champs. Mission accomplished,” he said.
It was Allen’s clutch home run against Virginia last week that kept the Bulldogs in the winners’ bracket. Allen — whose Twitter bio reads, “Spreading His word through Baseball, Huntin, and Fishin” — said he went to God before the pivotal at-bat.
“I kind of prayed,” Allen said following that hit. “I said, ‘Lord, I know this is a big moment.’ I just told Him, ‘I want You to know, if I succeed or not, I am still thankful for the ability You’ve given me and the opportunity You’ve given me to be in this moment.’”
Philippians 4:6… https://t.co/uuEh17cbSL
— Tanner Allen (@Tanner_Allen10) June 25, 2021
Allen is even more thankful now after winning the title in his final college game. This national championship marks the first in a team sport for Mississippi State, and it took until the 12th try for the school to bring home a title.
“It’s awesome,” Lemonis said. “For all these kids, for all the players that came before us, and for these fans. It’s unbelievable.”
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