The great sound of silence filled the air as Mississippi State University defeated Vanderbilt en route to their 10th College World Series appearance. No more whistlers for the rest of the season and all the baseball fans rejoiced.
The extra-inning thriller was one which showed poise, coolness, magic and resolve from the Bulldogs. This was the complete opposite from the beginning of the year.
When I left Dudy Noble and walked 15 minutes downhill in the freezing cold after their first SEC series against Vandy, I thought there was no way the team who was outclassed, outplayed and outshone could go to Omaha.
Though it may have been the most difficult way to get to Omaha, MSU proved me wrong.
When I first met the new head coach Gary Henderson after MSU's win against Jackson State University, the players were still recovering from losing Andy Cannizaro, but still spoke highly of Henderson.
The team trusted him, and this trusting relationship was seen on Sunday night when the game against Vanderbilt went to extra innings. Although placed under scrutiny for some iffy coaching decisions and pitching changes, Henderson kept the team on board and steadied the ship.
As the team celebrated their thrilling victory, Henderson hugged his wife and players alike, overcome with emotion. The grandfather-like figure kept the team together, rallied the troops and got them to Omaha.
After his performance this season, Henderson should be an easy candidate for coach of the year, but he probably feels like he has more work to do.
It is quite remarkable to make it to Omaha, a feat MSU achieved 10 times. However, getting to Omaha is only half of the story. Once in Omaha, MSU has another chance to do something remarkable.
Andy Cannizaro looked me straight in the eye at the beginning of the season and said there was one thing MSU had been unable to do in their program history, win a national championship. They now have a one in eight shot at winning a national championship by making it to Omaha.
Although the team is under a new coach now, the player’s mission remains the same, win the last game of the year. They have a chance to do this in the heartland of America.
A season filled with grit, guts and pixie dust is still going strong. Now a fan base believes what the players knew all along: this team can outlive, outlast, and outplay.