Mississippi State falls to Oregon State

Published 12:10 am Sunday, June 24, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Kevin Abel and Jake Mulholland combined on a four-hitter, Tyler Malone hit his third home run of the College World Series, and Oregon State survived some ninth-inning drama to beat Mississippi State 5-2 on Saturday night to reach the best-of-three finals against Arkansas.

As they did in 2006, when they won the first of two straight national titles, the Beavers came back from losing their CWS opener to win four straight and make the finals.

Abel allowed three singles, walked three and struck out five in seven innings as Oregon State (53-11-1) held down Mississippi State’s offense for the second straight day. Beavers pitchers gave up five hits in a 12-2 win Friday that forced the Bracket 1 final rematch.

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Mulholland pitched a perfect eighth and retired the first two batters in the ninth before running into some trouble.

He walked two in a row, Luke Alexander singled in a run and Mulholland plunked pinch hitter Tanner Poole to load the bases for Jordan Westburg.

Westburg, who hit a grand slam against North Carolina two games ago, grounded out to end the game.

Mississippi State (39-29) mostly shut down an Oregon State offense that came into the game batting .377 and averaging 10.8 runs in four games in Omaha.

Five of the Beavers’ eight hits in the game came in succession in a five-run third inning after Bulldogs starter Ethan Small (5-4) got two quick outs. Adley Rutschman and Michael Gretler had RBI singles before Malone’s three-run homer barely cleared the fence in right center.

Malone, who hit five homers in five straight games in mid-April, had no more until his three-homers-in-four-games binge in Omaha.

Oregon State held the Bulldogs scoreless for eight straight innings spanning two games until Rowdey Jordan’s RBI single in the third accounted for the Bulldogs’ lone run.

OSU coach Pat Casey lamented Friday that the Beavers had yet to get a quality start through four CWS games.

Bryce Fehmel’s four-inning outing against Washington had been the longest.

Abel (6-1) gave them what could only be called a high-quality start.

He retired the first six batters he faced, striking out three of them, and took a one-hitter into the fifth. A base-running blunder by Jake Mangum got Abel off the hook in the fifth, and an inning-ending double play got him out of trouble in the sixth when the Bulldogs had runners on second and third with one out.

In Abel’s previous CWS appearance, he pitched four innings of one-hit, one-run relief against Washington. In his only start of the postseason, he allowed three hits in eight shutout innings against LSU in the regionals.

The Bulldogs played from behind in four of their eight wins in the NCAA Tournament and had made comebacks in 21 of their 39 wins this season.

There was to be no rally Saturday in what was their sixth elimination game since the regionals started.

Oregon State’s Nick Madrigal, the Chicago White Sox’s first-round draft pick, was 15 for 15 on stolen bases this season until catcher Dustin Skelton threw him out at second in the seventh inning.

Madrigal got a good jump, but Skelton put his throw on a line to second baseman Hunter Stovall, who put the tag on in time on a close play.

Next, Arkansas will battle Oregon State on Monday night in the opener of the best-of-three CWS finals. The Razorbacks are playing for their first national championship and will be appearing in a title game for the second time.

They lost to Cal State Fullerton in 1979. Oregon State is in its third finals and going for its third championship.

As for Mississippi State, the Bulldogs started the season 0-3, and had Andy Cannizaro resign in what looked like a lost season. However, interim coach Gary Henderson and the rest of the bulldogs rallied and barely made the postseason, and won five straight elimination games before falling to  Oregon State.