The first day of the 2013 College World Series is in the books, with both Mississippi State and Indiana pulling off big wins on Saturday.
Mississippi State used a two-run rally in the eighth inning to pull ahead of Oregon State, then got some help from the wind in the bottom of the ninth as a would-be walk-off, three-run homer died on the warning track to preserve their 5-4 win.
Indiana, meanwhile, got a gem of an outing from starter Joey DeNato as the Hoosiers shut out Louisville 2-0 for the second time this year.
Indiana now meets Mississippi State in the winners' bracket at 8 p.m. ET Monday. Oregon State and Louisville will play an elimination game at 3 p.m. earlier that day.
As this is a double-elimination tournament, OSU and Louisville still have the opportunity to come out of the losers' bracket to advance to the finals, but face long odds in doing so. The tournament format is structured in a way that rewards winning on Day 1, as it means a team can potentially face fewer games as it works through the bracket. If a team keeps winning, it can escape group play in as little as three games. If it loses the first day, it means they'll have to win four more games to get through.
The major advantage of playing fewer games is that it conserves pitchers. If OSU or Louisville were to fight their way through the losers' bracket to face the group's undefeated team, they would either be matching their fourth best pitcher against their opponent's third option or recycling their Game 1 starter on short rest. In addition, the extra game most likely means more strain on the bullpen.
After DeNato's complete game, Indiana is in the best pitching situation of the group, with a completely fresh pen moving forward. That is a massive advantage for a team thinner on pitching depth than the rest of the field.