It wasn’t the nail biter that the past couple games have been, but Beaver fans should be happy with today’s result. The Beavers took an early lead, and then protected it en route to a 12-2 victory.
Mississippi State drew first blood. In the first inning, the Beavers’ starting pitcher Bryce Fehmel hit lead off batter Jeff Mangum, who then scored on a double that was misplayed by center fielder Jack Anderson, who has been subbing in for the injured Steven Kwan.
The Beavers answered back quickly. Nick Madrigal got things started with a single, then stole second and third on the next at bat. Trevor Larnach brought Madrigal home with a single, and left the Beavers with 2 on and no outs. Unfortunately, some poor baserunning erased that advantage, and the Beavers were forced to end the first with a tie instead of a lead.
The tie wouldn’t last long. In the bottom of the second, Kyle Nobach led off with a double, and then Michael Gretler scored him with a single to give OSU the lead. Gretler was then scored by Nick Madrigal, with Madrigal’s second hit of the game. The Bulldogs loaded the bases up with a walk and a beaned batter, and another walk to Trevor Larnach scored the third run of the inning. This prompted Mississippi State to pull their starting pitcher, Jacob Billingsley, after only 1 and a third innings. An Adley Rutschman single added two more runs before the inning ended, giving the Beavers an early 6-1 lead.
That was the margin for much of the game. Mississippi State added a run in the third, but the Beavers answered back in the fourth with a Nobach single to take a 7-2 lead.
That was the state of the game for a few innings. The Bulldogs managed to stick around with some sharp pitching, but couldn’t get anything past the Beavers’ bullpen. The scoring would get started again in the bottom of the seventh. Zak Taylor hit a triple to deep center, scoring Jake Anderson and Michael Gretler. A Trevor Larnach single then brought Taylor home. Joe Casey, son of Pat, then added one more with a pinch hit single. The Beavers ended the frame with an 11-2 lead.
The Beavers added one more in the eight, off of a Nick Madrigal double, for the final 12-2 score. This means that the Beavers will stay alive for another day; the rematch against Mississippi State is set for tomorrow, at a time to be determined. If Florida beats Arkansas tonight, the Beavers and Bulldogs will face off at 12:00 pacific. If the Hogs finish off the Gators, OSU and MSU will instead play at 5:00 pacific.
Bryce Fehmel had possibly the best start of an OSU starting pitcher this World Series, but still failed to impress. Fehmel lasted 3.2 innings, giving up 4 hits and 2 runs, with one strikeout and two HBP. Brandon Eisert pitched the rest of the game, a huge boon to a Beavers team that needs to keep their pitching fresh. Eisert finished the day with 5.1 innings pitched, only allowing one hit and one walk, with three strikeouts.
Every batter in the Beavers starting lineup reached base at least once. Trevor Larnach led the way with 3 hits and 3 RBI, though Nick Madrigal was right behind with 3 hits and 2 RBI. It was also a big day for Zak Taylor, who only had one hit, but that one hit was the huge triple that broke the game open in the seventh.
There are still some questions for the Beavers ahead of the decisive game tomorrow. Kevin Abel is expected to start, but starting pitching has been a weakness so far this season. Steven Kwan’s absence from the outfield has also become an issue, as Jack Anderson, while talented, just cannot match the athleticism and skill Kwan brings to the team.
Still, the Beavers look like a team that has figured out how they can win a championship. They didn’t play their best game today, and still came away with a 10 run win. Every other team left in the World Series needs to figure out how to solve this OSU lineup, because right now they simply refuse to lose.