The Beavers season was hanging by a single, tiny thread Wednesday night. Down 3-2 in the 9th inning, Cadyn Grenier stepped up to the plate with a runner on third and two outs. And I’ll be honest I was not feeling optimistic about Oregon State’s chances to rally. Grenier even popped the ball up in foul territory near first base and if it wasn’t for an Arkansas miscommunication the Beavers season would have been over (see below).
Instead Grenier recovered and belted a base hit past the shortstop to tie the game. One batter later Trevor Larnarch crushed a homer and the Beavers took a 5-3 lead to the bottom of the 9th. Jake Mulholland was brought in after Kevin Abel allowed a base hit and helped turn a double play to end the game. What a rally and what a finish!!
If you watched this game you know how absolutely wild and dramatic it was. Bryce Fehmel struggled to find (a questionable) strike zone through a couple of innings of work before getting pulled, but not before allowing Arkansas to grab an early 1-0 lead. Brandon Eisert relieved him and pitched very well the next 5 innings (striking out 7 on the night). Oregon State scored 2 more runs and took the lead back, but Eisert got into some trouble in the 5th inning. The 5th inning has not been friendly to the Beavers this series and Arkansas ripped the lead back 3-2, setting up the dramatic final inning.
Grenier, Larnach and Adley Rutchsman were all huge for Oregon State tonight; but the Beavers bullpen has been truly phenomenal and is the reason the Beavers are still playing baseball. Oregon State has missed a ton of opportunities during this CWS though, specifically during the finals. They’ve stranded runners, made terrible base-running decisions, had failed bunts turn into double plays and overall have had an unusually large number of defensive errors. Pat Casey was clearly fed up with the defense in the outfield and tried all sorts of outfield combinations. He even brought in his son Joe Casey late in the game to man the outfield.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s game; it’ll be fascinating to see what happens with each teams lineups. Arkansas has leaned heavily on certain pitchers and I wouldn’t be surprised to see their ace Blaine Knight again. Tonight Kevin Abel got the win with just one inning of work (23 pitches) and I would not be surprised if he got the ball tomorrow with the way he has been pitching. Oregon State’s bullpen has to be worn out, but it’s an all-or-nothing game for the championship. Let’s go Beavers!!