STARKVILLE, Miss. — Cesar Salazar hit a game-winning, two-out single in the 11th inning to cap an improbable comeback and Arizona rallied to beat Mississippi State 6-5 on Saturday night and advance to the College World Series.
Arizona (44-21) makes it to Omaha for the first time since winning the national title in 2012. The Wildcats trailed 5-1 going into the eighth inning, but Ryan Aguilar’s 3-run homer jolted the team’s offense awake.
Arizona added another run in the ninth to force extra innings and then Salazar, a freshman catcher, smacked a bouncing ball through the right side of the infield for the deciding hit in the best-of-three series.
Mississippi State (44-18-1) got two solo homers from Brent Rooker and 5 1/3 solid innings from starter Austin Sexton.
But the Bulldogs’ bullpen failed to hold the lead. Ryan Rigby gave up the 3-run homer, Reid Humphreys the tying run and Blake Smith the game winner.
Mississippi State was cruising after Rooker’s second homer of the night in the eighth inning put the Bulldogs up 5-1. But Arizona’s Aguilar quieted the crowd of 13,452 with his 3-run shot over the right field wall.
Mississippi State still led 5-4 going into the ninth, but Alfonso Rivas hit a game-tying single. The Bulldogs were able to send the game into extras when Smith managed to coax a strikeout and groundout to end the inning.
Arizona’s Cameron Ming pitched two scoreless innings of relief to earn his third win of the season. He also had the save in the Wildcats’ game one victory on Friday.
Arizona has won 12 of 13 games heading into next weekend’s College World Series. The Wildcats outhit Mississippi State 18-7.
Arizona’s Zach Gibbons had four hits and Salazar had three. Bobby Dalbec hit a solo homer in the second inning one night after pitching 8 2/3 scoreless innings to lead the Wildcats in game one.