OMAHA, Neb. (WCBI/MSU Athletics) – Mississippi State made its first-ever game at TD Ameritrade Park a truly memorable experience.
Playing in the College World Series for the first time since 2007, MSU knocked off No. 3 national seed Oregon State 5-4 in an opening-round game played before a crowd of 24,473. The Bulldogs snapped a four-game CWS losing streak and won here for the first time since 1998.
The contest was nip-and-tuck throughout. The Bulldogs rallied from two different deficits for only the second time this season. Oregon State’s Danny Hayes flied out to the right field warning track to end the contest, barely missing a potential game-winning three-run home run.
“The breaking ball was a little high,” MSU relief pitcher Jonathan Holder said. “I had nervousness when the ball left the bat. The whole team did.”
MSU will face either Indiana or Louisville in a winners’ bracket contest at 7 p.m. Monday. The contest will be televised nationally by ESPN2.
“It was sloppy in the beginning,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “We had a couple of plays early that we didn’t make that could have made our life easier. This group never quits. They will never give in. The character of this team is incredible.”
Oregon State scored twice in the home half of the first inning after a misplay on a ground ball opened the door. Michael Conforto began his monster day with an RBI-double, while Danny Hayes followed with an RBI-single. Both runs in the inning were unearned.
MSU (49-18) battled back for a 3-2 lead with three scores in the second inning.
Brett Pirtle opened the inning by reaching as a hit batsman. Wes Rea doubled down the left field line and a walk to C.T. Bradford loaded the bases. Sam Frost and Demarcus Henderson followed with back-to-back singles, while a misplay in the outfield allowed the third run in the inning to trot home.
Oregon State (50-12) reclaimed the lead with single scores in the fourth and fifth innings.
MSU starting pitcher Kendall Graveman was lifted with two outs in the fifth inning. Graveman allowed six hits and four runs (two earned), with two strikeouts and a walk. From there, Ross Mitchell and Holder combined for 4.1 innings of shutout relief.
Mitchell earned the win to improve to 13-0. Holder recorded his 19th save. The duo allowed four hits, with four strikeouts and two walks.
“We knew our pitchers had to help us get it done,” Cohen said. “That been the story of our season. We are proud and fortunate. The last swing of the game is a ball that was well hit. We benefited. The ball bounced the right way. The ball bounces for you better when you have kids who compete on every pitch.”
Mitchell is now tied for fourth in single-season victories at MSU.
“It has been incredible,” Mitchell said. “A lot of that owed to Holder for the great season he’s had.”
With his leadoff double in the first inning, Adam Frazier tied a school record for single-season hits. His 104th hit in the fifth inning set a new record. The nine postseason victories by the 2013 Bulldogs matches a school record set by the 1990 squad.
“The record is great but it means even more when you can do that in a win,” Frazier said. “I am really proud of this team for finding a way today.”
The Bulldogs found that way in the eighth inning when Wes Rea slapped a two-run, two-out double off Oregon State reliever Matt Boyd. Boyd (10-4) took the loss with one inning of relief work, following starter Andrew Moore, who pitched 7.1 innings. Conforto led the Beavers offensively with four hits and a walk.
Prior to the Rea game-winner, Alex Detz and Hunter Renfroe had singles. Rea and Frazier were the multiple hitters for MSU, which totaled eight hits and worked around two errors.