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Jun. 21—Will Bednar saved the best performance of his young career for the biggest stage in college baseball.

The freshman right-handed pitcher struck out 15 Texas batters in six innings as No. 7 Mississippi State beat No. 2 Texas, 2-1, in the opening round of the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Bulldogs, now 46-16, advance to the winner’s bracket to play Virginia on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Texas and Tennessee will play in an elimination game on Tuesday at 1 p.m.

Bednar’s 15 strikeouts set a career-high for the freshman as well as a new Mississippi State school-record in a CWS game. Bednar was relieved by Landon Sims, who struck out six batters in three innings to give the MSU pitching staff 21 total strikeouts, a new CWS single-game record.

“I felt like it was a great performance, probably my best ever,” Bednar said. “Especially on this big of a stage was really cool. I felt like my fastball was playing really well up in the zone and my slider played really well, too.”

Bednar (8-1) started his myriad of strikeouts in the first inning and never looked back. He struck out two batters in the first, fourth and sixth innings, while he struck out the side in the second, third and fifth innings.

Mississippi State gave him a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning on a Scotty Dubrule sacrifice fly and a Brad Cumbest RBI triple to right field, and that was all Bednar needed to earn his eighth win of the year.

He allowed only one hit, a leadoff single to start the fourth inning, but bounced back to strike out two and force a flyout to keep the runner at first base.

He allowed only one base- runner following the single. Texas power hitter Zach Zubia worked a nine-pitch walk to give the Longhorns a leadoff base runner in the seventh, and Bednar left the game at 108 pitches.

‘Locked in’

“He was locked in, there’s no doubt about it all night long,” head coach Chris Lemonis said. “When he hit that groove in the third or fourth inning, he was as good as I’ve seen him. … I grabbed Will after the game and handed him a game ball and just told him that was one of the better performances ever here. Ain’t many guys come here and done that.”

Star closer Sims came in and wasted no time picking up where Bednar left off. He struck out the side in order in the seventh inning to strand the Texas base runner at first, then retired the side in order in the the eighth.

Drama rose in the ninth inning when Sims gave up a leadoff homer to Mike Antico to cut the lead to 2-1, but he bounced back with a strikeout and groundout.

The Longhorns didn’t go away and rallied off two singles to put runners on the corners with two outs, but Sims forced a groundout to second base to end the game.