Oregon State rips Bulldogs in College World Series

Published 8:33 pm Friday, June 22, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — It has been decades since an offense at the College World Series has been as prolific as Oregon State’s.

The good times — and the runs — kept rolling for the Beavers in a 12-2 win over Mississippi State on Friday. Oregon State used a five-run second inning to build a big lead, batted around twice and never were threatened thanks to Brandon Eisert’s season-long 5 1/3 innings of one-hit shutout relief.

Oregon State joined 1995 Cal State Fullerton as the only teams in CWS history to score 11 or more runs in three consecutive games. The Beavers’ 43 runs is the highest total by a team through four games since 2001.

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“When you’re swinging the bat well, you have a lot of confidence going up and down the lineup,” coach Pat Casey said. “We’ve got a team approach to swinging. I think they have a lot of trust in one another. I’ve been through spells during the year when we haven’t swung the bat well. They’re swinging it well at the right time. Certainly it’s something I’m excited about.”

The Beavers (51-11-1) have staved off elimination three times since losing their CWS opener to North Carolina last Saturday. They beat Washington, North Carolina and now Mississippi State. Another win over the Bulldogs (39-18) on Saturday would send Oregon State to the best-of-three CWS finals for the first time since 2007.

The Bulldogs, trying to return to the CWS finals for the first time since 2013 — when they beat Oregon State twice along the way — are not in unfamiliar territory. They were down to their last strike in the Tallahassee Regional before beating Florida State in a win-or-go-home game, and this will be the sixth time in 11 games they’ll be playing to fight off elimination.

“We’ve come back many, many times, this group has,” MSU interim coach Gary Henderson said. “We’ll respond well.”

Mississippi State will start left-hander Ethan Small (5-3) on Saturday, even though he was hit in the upper body by a line drive while in the field during batting practice before Friday’s game.

Small pitched seven shutout innings in the Bulldogs’ 1-0 win over Washington last Saturday.

“I saw it. I was on the field. So, yeah, it’s unbelievable. I don’t even know what to say. Other than the kids are bulletproof,” Henderson said of Small’s batting practice incident. “I’m like — I don’t know what — a grandma, a mom, or overprotective father telling them all the time you’re not bulletproof. That’s where they are all their life. Stay behind the screen they’ve heard that ad nauseam from me. But freak accidents happen and it hit him and we’re planning on him pitching tomorrow.”

Oregon State won the first of two straight national titles in 2006 after losing its first game in Omaha. The only other team since then to make it to the finals after a loss in its opener was the 2010 South Carolina championship team.

The Beavers’ offensive tear continued against a Mississippi State team that came into the game having allowed just two runs in 18 innings.

Oregon State is batting .377 and averaging 10.8 runs in Omaha after collecting 15 hits and scoring in double digits for the third time in four games.

“I don’t think any of us really pay attention to stats,” left fielder Kyle Nobach said. “We go out there and we want to play for each other. I think that raises your level of play, when your focus is not on yourself and it’s on the team, and I think everybody feels that way.”

The Beavers sent 11 batters to the plate while breaking it open in the second inning. Mississippi State starter Jacob Billingsley (5-4) left after he walked the bases loaded. Keegan James walked the first batter he faced to force in a run. Adley Rutschman, batting .500 (7-for-14) with a CWS-leading nine RBIs in Omaha, followed with a two-run single as the Beavers built a 6-1 lead.

Oregon State put the game out of reach when it batted around in a four-run seventh go up 11-2.

Nick Madrigal and Trevor Larnach had three hits apiece for the Beavers.

“The margin of error when you’re facing them right now is not very good,” Henderson said. “You have to be really, really good. We just weren’t sharp enough today to earn a victory.”

Eisert (5-3) took over for starter Bryce Fehmel with two outs in the fourth and allowed only a walk in the fifth and a single in the eighth.

Mississippi State, coming off a 12-2 win over North Carolina on Tuesday, managed just five hits against Fehmel and Eisert.

“I mean, it’s baseball. Stuff like that happens,” said Mississippi State second baseman Hunter Stovall, who went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. “Flush it and move on to the next day. You carry it on to the next day, it ain’t going to do nothing for you.”

2 p.m. ESPN – Mississippi State vs. Oregon State
• Winner advances to CWS championship series beginning Monday