Vandy rides another strong start by Rocker to win

OMAHA, Neb. -- After being constantly reminded for more than a week about his no-hitter in the NCAA super regionals, Kumar Rocker found himself on the mound for the first time on a bigger stage at the College World Series.

Vanderbilt's 6-foot-4, 255-pound freshman star never let the pressure get to him, turning in another strong start and getting plenty of support from Stephen Scott's two home runs and four RBIs in a 6-3 victory over Mississippi State on Wednesday.

"That first inning I was a little bit zoned out,'' Rocker said. "I had to take my time and get my feet under me and just started cruising. It took me a little bit to do that.''

The No. 2 national seed Commodores (56-11) gained the inside track to the best-of-three finals next week. They need a victory on Friday or Saturday to advance.

Rocker, who struck out 19 against Duke on June 8 in the first no-hitter of the 20-year super regional era, held the No. 6 Bulldogs (52-14) scoreless, until Rowdey Jordan's two-out RBI single in the sixth inning. That ended Rocker's 19⅔-inning shutout streak.

"When you see guys that back up performances or become consistent, it's all about competition and their mindset inside of competition,'' Vandy coach Tim Corbin said of Rocker. "He just wants to win. There's no pomp and circumstance. He's not trying to posture. He's not trying to do anything but get out there and compete. He loves these moments.''

Rocker (11-5) used his fastball and a flummoxing breaking pitch to limit the Bulldogs to five hits. He walked one, hit a batter and struck out six, before Patrick Raby took over to start the seventh. Rocker won his fifth straight start, and he is 9-1 over his past 10.

"He was able to command two pitches for strikes. He's got a fastball that's mid-90s and a 12-6 slider that works,'' said the Bulldogs' Jake Mangum, the SEC's career hits leader. "He was able to keep us off balance. He pitched really, really well. He's a freshman. That speaks volumes of his last two starts. The future is really bright for him.''

Scott hit a solo homer in the second inning and a three-run shot in the fifth to break open the meeting of SEC rivals. It was the 13th and 14th home runs for the 6-hole batter.

"Their whole lineup has had a really good year, and you've got double-digit home runs there late in their lineup with a couple guys,'' MSU coach Chris Lemonis said, in referencing Scott. "I thought we pitched him good at times and we left some balls over the plate, and for a good hitter, man, he took advantage of it and crushed them.''

The Bulldogs, who came from three runs down in the ninth inning to beat Auburn 5-4 on Sunday and who also have a nation-leading 28 come-from-behind wins, got their offense going once Rocker left.

Marshall Gilbert homered leading off the seventh against Raby, and Mangum doubled and scored when Tanner Allen doubled past diving center fielder Pat DeMarco to make it 6-3.

Tyler Brown entered with two outs and runners on the corners and struck out Dustin Skelton. He limited the Bulldogs to one hit over the last two innings to earn his 16th save, the seventh that required him to get six or more outs.

"That was a tough one to swallow,'' Mangum said. "We have to go home tonight and turn the page quick.''

JJ Bleday's RBI double started a five-run fifth for Vanderbilt and knocked out MSU starter Peyton Plumlee (7-5). Trysten Barlow took over, and Ethan Paul singled and Philip Clarke walked to load the bases. That brought on Riley Self, and DeMarco tapped his first pitch for an RBI groundout before Scott launched a first-pitch slider past right field for a three-run homer and 6-0 lead.

"We went into this game confident with Kumar on the mound, and he really showed up,'' Scott said. "That's a pretty scary team, top to bottom, so we were looking to give him some run support.''

It was the Commodores' second win of the season over MSU. The teams didn't meet in the regular season; Vandy won 1-0 in the SEC tournament.

Vanderbilt will play Friday against winner of the Thursday elimination game between Louisville and Mississippi State.

Texas Tech 4, Florida State 1

Brian Klein hit the tiebreaking home run for Texas Tech, and the Red Raiders beat Florida State 4-1 Wednesday night to close the 40-year coaching career of NCAA all-time wins leader Mike Martin.

Klein's homer, his second of the CWS and third of the season, came in the sixth inning and stood up because of the Seminoles' inability to find a spark on offense.

Tech (46-19) won a second game at the CWS for the first time in its four appearances.

FSU (42-23) had no trouble scoring while sweeping through a regional in Athens, Georgia, and a super regional at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to earn Martin his 17th trip to the CWS. The Seminoles beat Arkansas 1-0 here Saturday, but they lost 2-0 to Michigan before the Red Raiders eliminated them.

Martin heads into retirement with 2,029 career wins -- most by any coach in any college sport -- but no national championships. Each of his 40 teams won at least 40 games and played in the NCAA tournament.

When Taylor Floyd struck out Reese Albert to end the game, Martin came out of the dugout, took off his glasses and strode across the field to shake hands with Tech coach Tim Tadlock.

Louisville 5, Auburn 3

Two Louisville relievers had to survive anxious moments to hold Auburn to two runs over five innings before the 5-3 victory was secure Wednesday, completing a game suspended by rain one day earlier.

The No. 7 national seed Cardinals (50-17) improved to 32-1 all time when scoring five or more runs in an NCAA tournament game. But they are just 3-10 all time at the CWS.

"As I've learned, it's not easy winning out here, and they don't give you anything,'' said Dan McDonnell, the coach for all five of Louisville's CWS appearances. "You've got to earn it. We talk about toughness and playing with an edge, and our guys really showed that yesterday and today being in the elimination game."

Auburn (38-28), which squandered a three-run lead in the ninth inning of a 5-4 loss to Mississippi State on Sunday, went 0-2 in its first CWS since 1997.

"Hate that it ends today,'' Tigers coach Butch Thompson said. "I think our players, just right up to the end, you could see that our guys are pretty resilient and continued to fight.''

Louisville led 4-1 when the game was suspended after four innings Tuesday.

It was 5-2 in the eighth when the Tigers mounted their biggest threat against closer Michael McAvene, who took over for Adam Elliott (3-2) to start the seventh inning.

The bottom of Auburn's order produced three straight singles to load the bases with two outs, and McAvene ran the count full against leadoff man Judd Ward. But Ward swung and missed on a 96 mph fastball on the outside half of the plate and finished 0-for-10 in the CWS.

"It was pretty deflating, but at the same time, all year long we faced a ton of adversity throughout our games and we've always battled back and we've always responded well,'' Auburn's Steven Williams said. "We tried to go back out in the ninth, get a shutdown inning, get back in here and have some good at-bats and see what happens."

Michael Kirian came on in the ninth and gave up Conor Davis' one-out home run off the top of the fence in left center, cutting the lead to two. Williams hit a two-out double into the right-field corner, before Kirian struck out Rankin Woley to end the game and record his fifth save.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.