#3 Oregon St. (52-12, 24-6 in the Pac-12) vs. Mississippi St. (50-18, 16-14 in the SEC) / 2 PM CDT (12 Noon PDT) / TD Ameritrade Park, Omaha, NE / ESPN / KEJO 1240 AM & KPOJ 620 AM / SiriusXM Channel 91
Oregon St. and Mississippi St. meet today in a rematch of the opening game of the 2013 College World Series last Saturday, a 5-4 Bulldog comeback win. The Beavers hope it turns into the middle game of a best of three series, as they have to force that third game tomorrow with a win today to keep hopes of a trip to the CWS finals alive, whereas Mississippi St. would like to save some pitching, and punch their ticket to a second week in Omaha all today.
Oregon St. opened a 2-0 first inning lead in the first game, only to have Mississippi St. immediately respond with 3 runs in the top of the second inning. The Beavers pulled even with a single run in the 4th inning, and took the lead back with another run an inning later. But the Bulldogs rallied for 2 runs in the 8th inning on Wes Rea's 2 out 2 RBI double, and took the shorter route to today, needing only to add another 8th inning comeback for another 5-4 win over Indiana on Monday to make it to baseball's final four.
The Beavers had to eliminate Louisville and then Indiana to earn another shot at the Bulldogs. Those wins couldn't have been much different, as Oregon St. dominated the Cardinals 11-4, but needed a stellar performance by Matt Boyd to get the 1-0 win over the Hoosiers that was the first 1 run game in the CWS in 28 years.
Oregon St. head coach Pat Casey decided to put off deciding between freshman RHP Andrew Moore (14-1, 1.57), who pitched into the 8th inning against Mississippi St. the first time, and sophomore LHP Jace Fry (0-1, 8.31) until game day.
Fry, who underwent "Tommy John" shoulder ligament replacement surgery last June, has only appeared in 5 games, and thrown a total of 4 1/3 innings. He's thrown well in practice, and is under consideration for some portion of today's game since Moore would be going on one less day's rest than normal.
Come warmup time, Casey decided on Moore, the reliable choice. Moore will be looking for what would be an Oregon St. record 15th win in a season, and the most in Division I baseball this year.
Moore does have a relief appearance, and a save, so one of Casey's options was to use Fry on the front end instead of the back end, and use Moore for a substantial portion of the game if necessary, ala what the Bulldogs often do.
Moore allowed only 6 hits against the Bulldogs last Saturday, but was charged for 4 of the 5 runs Mississippi St. scored, as Alex Detz, the runner he turned over to Matt Boyd, ultimately scored the game tieing run.
Mississippi St., who will be the home team, will get to send a pitcher out first though, and initially announced they would go with senior LHP Luis Pollorena (6-3, 4.32).
Pollorena has made a dozen starts this season, but has also come in from the pen 7 times, as Mississippi St. head coach John Cohen has used a half dozen pitchers in dual roles, and gotten more innings pitched out of the bull pen than by starters this season.
Pollorena hasn't pitched in 3 weeks though, with his last action coming on June 1st when he started and went 3 2/3 innings against South Alabama in the Starkville Regional, allowing 4 hits and 2 runs.
His announcement as the probable starter came as a considerable surprise, given that Kendall Graveman, who has the most starts this season for Mississippi St., 18, including the first game against Oregon St., has had nearly a week's rest, and Jacob Lindgren, who has made 14 starts for the Bulldogs, hasn't pitched yet in Omaha.
And less surprisingly, come pregame warmups, and after re-watching the game tape from Saturday, when Graveman actually performed well, head coach John Cohen also changed his mind, and announced he would go with his senior RHP Graveman (7-5, 3.17).
"Max"imum Availability for Oregon State
Casey will have maximum availability of his Maxes today, as both senior centerfielder Max Gordon and freshman closer Max Engelbrekt are available. Gordon missed Wednesday night's game after inadvertently using the wrong eye drops with his contact lenses, and over dilating his eyes. Engelbrekt pulled a muscle in his back and had to come out of the middle game of the Corvallis Super Regional against Kansas St., and was considered available again for the first time Wednesday night.
Max is back in the lineup today; here's Oregon St.'s lineup:
Mississippi St. has shaken things up toward the bottom of their order and in the field from what Oregon St. saw last Saturday. Alex Detz will start at third today, and so Trey Porter will DH, and hit in the #7 spot, with Sam Frost sitting at the start.
Here's the Bulldog lineup:
It's going to reach the 90's this afternoon in Omaha, as summer officially arrives, the warmest weather the Beavers have encountered yet, so the old pregame adage of "be sure to keep hydrated" certainly applies. And of course, the wind is blowing in from the south.
Thunderstorms are a possibility this evening in Omaha, which could impact the North Carolina-UCLA game, but are not expected to be a factor for this afternoon's game.
The Beavers are in their grays today, but being the visitor isn't necessarily a bad thing; 9 of the 10 CWS games so far have been won by the team in the first base dugout. The one exception was Oregon St., though, in their win over Louisville.