Bulldogs Advance To CWS Final Eliminating Beavers

Hunter Renfroe launches the game winning home run that advanced Mississippi St. past Oregon St. to the College World Series finals. - (ESPNU images)

Final Score: Mississippi St. 4 Oregon St. 1

Mississippi St. completed a sweep of Oregon St. with a 4-1 win that advances the Bulldogs to the finals of the 2013 College World Series, and ends the Beavers season. The difference was Mississippi St. hit when it mattered, and Oregon St. didn't.

Hunter Renfroe's 3 run home run into the left field bullpen in the 5th inning, thrilled the crowd of 18,868, and provided the difference for the Bulldogs, while the Beavers, who were able to bring the tieing run to the plate twice in the 9th inning, finished the season 1 for 21 with runners in scoring position.

Mississippi St. struck first in what started out as a pitching duel in the rematch of last Saturday's CWS opening 5-4 Bulldog win, when Brett Pirtle singled, went to third on Wes Rea's double, and scored when C.T. Bradford singled.

Conforto_catch_espnu_medium

It might have been a bigger lead, but Michael Conforto, who had robbed Rea of an extra base hit in the second inning, above (ESPNU photo), with a leaping catch crashing into the left field wall that, threw Rea out at the plate after catching Trey Porter's deep foul fly ball.

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Replay showed Rea did get his toe onto the plate, above (ESPNU photo), before Oregon St. catcher Jake Rodriguez, who had made a leaping catch of Conforto's throw, could get the tag down, but the defensive effort impressed the umpire enough to declare Rea out.

What looked like a possibly game changing call diminished in importance an inning later though.

Oregon St. freshman righty Andrew Moore, who was looking for a team record 15th win, which would have also been the most in the nation this year in Division I baseball, got the first 2 outs on ground balls, but once Mississippi St. got their third trip through the lineup against the Beavers' ace, they figured him out.

Bulldog leadoff hitter Adam Frazier singled to right field, and Alex Detz followed that with a double up the middle, setting the plate for Renfroe.

"I got 2 quick outs, but maybe I got a little lazy there," Moore explained, "and they got some great hits. I left a curve ball up, and they hit it."

"He tried to bury a breaking ball on Renfroe, but left it up, and he's a first round draft pick," Oregon St. head coach Pat Casey added.

Conforto_on_wall_espnu_medium

Conforto went up and almost over the fence after the ball, above (ESPNU image), but there was no reaching it.

Renfroe is headed for the San Diego Padres system after next week.

It was Renfroe's team leading 16th home run of the season, but his first since May 4. It was also only the 3rd home run in now 11 games in this year's CWS in TD Ameritrade Park.

"I didn't think it was going out right away," Renfroe said. "I was running out of the box right away, going for a double. Kind of hit it on the end of the bat, really, but was able to get enough backspin to hit it out to left field."

Two more singles followed, and suddenly the Bulldogs had 5 straight hits, and 8 in 11 batters sent to the plate, ending the day and the season for Moore, who took only his second loss of the season, and ended up 14-2. It was the shortest start of the season for Moore.

Moore's worst 2 outings came in his last 2, both against Mississippi St., who got him for 4 runs in each game, more than any other opponent managed all year.

Jace Fry, who had made only 5 appearances all season, after undergoing "Tommy John" shoulder ligament replacement surgery only a year ago, took over, and shut Mississippi St. out the rest of the way.

Fry had been discussed as a possible starter, but Casey defended his decision to stick with his ace.

"Andrew's been our starter all year, and was the right person to go with," Casey said. "He made 1 bad pitch."

Oregon St. immediately attempted a rally, as Max Gordon, who had missed Wednesday's 1-0 win over Indiana after using the wrong contact lens solution, drew a one out walk, moved to second on a ground out by Tyler Smith, and scored on a single up the middle by Andy Peterson.

It ended the day for Mississippi St. starter Kendall Graveman, but it was also the last run Oregon St. would score this season, on the only successful hit in their last 21 at bats with runners in scoring position.

Ross MItchell took over in middle relief for Mississippi St. as he had done in the first meeting between the teams, and this time he worked into the 9th inning. Mitchell quelled threats where Oregon St. had a runner in scoring position in both the 7th and 8th innings, aided by the third double play the Beavers hit into of the day in the 8th inning, on an interference call. It was the 80th double play recorded by the Bulldogs this season, third most in the country.

"Going into that 9th inning with a 3-run lead, it felt like we were winning by 100," Rea said, referring to the fact that the Bulldogs were 45-0 this year at that point when leading after 8 innings.

Mitchell then got Conforto, who was Oregon St.'s best hitter in Omaha to line out to Rea for the first out of the last frame.

But the Beavers had one last rally in them, and both Dylan Davis and Danny Hayes, who had come up just feet short of a walk-off home run against the Bulldogs last Saturday, singled.

Mississippi St. head coach John Cohen, knowing that Oregon St. had Ben Wetzler, who has won his last 10 decisions, waiting in the wings for a possible Saturday series rubber match, took no chances, and turned to his ace closer Jonathan Holder, repeating the exact 3 arm pitching rotation the Bulldogs used last Saturday to beat the Beavers.

Holder, who got the save in all 3 of Mississippi St.'s wins this week in Omaha, got Kavin Keyes to pop up, and Ryan Barnes to ground into a fielders choice at second, and the Bulldogs advanced to next week's CWS finals, against either UCLA, or North Carolina, if the Tar Heels can sweep the Bruins tonight and tomorrow.

It was Holder's 21st save of the season in 33 appearances, and his school record 30th career save. Graveman got the win, improving to 8-5 for the season.

"For me to see them the other day, that was pretty big on my part," Graveman said. "Once I see a team and face them, I feel like I can discover a few things."

"We couldn't get a hit when we needed one, and that's happened before," Casey said of what has been the Beavers' biggest problem all season long. "I thought we had a chance there to create an inning and we didn't get it done."

The Beavers were .048 at the plate in those last 21 opportunities to push a run across.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs became the first team in 12 years at the CWS to not have a strikeout in a game.

Mississippi St. improved to 51-18, and will make their first ever appearance in the CWS finals, while Oregon St. ended their season 52-13, the most wins the Beavers have ever had in a season. It was only the 2nd loss in 10 elimination games in Omaha for Oregon St. under Casey.

It's the 6th year in a row an SEC team has reached the CWS finals.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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