Beavers take them to wall, but Bulldogs capture opener - Omaha.com
Published Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 5:26 pm / Updated at 7:13 am
BASEBALL
Beavers take them to wall, but Bulldogs capture opener
Game snapshot
Play of the game: Mississippi State first baseman Wes Rea's two-out, two-run double in the eighth inning put the Bulldogs in front and flipped the momentum. Oregon State had retired 17 of 19 MSU batters entering the eighth.

Star of the game: Not often is the star from the losing team, but you can't deny Oregon State left fielder Michael Conforto this honor. He had four hits, scored a run, drove in a run, threw a runner out at the plate and made a sliding catch.

Key decision: Not a surprising decision but a key one. MSU coach John Cohen went to his stacked bullpen in the fifth inning. Oregon State didn't score again.

Interesting ritual: As Oregon State took pregame outfield practice, the entire Mississippi State team stood in a row 20 feet in front of its dugout and watched (presumably to check the opponents' arm strength and speed). Once Oregon State started infield practice, the Bulldogs moved back into the dugout but continued to watch.

Defining moment: Two of them. In both the eighth and ninth innings, Oregon State put runners on first and second with one out, but scored neither time.

Our take: Oregon State seemed in control most of the game, but Mississippi State scratched and clawed long enough to get the win. Having a bullpen that deep and talented means the Bulldogs will be in every game.

They said it: “We just won a ballgame, man. I don't really care what he was thinking at the moment. I was ready to go celebrate with my guys.” MSU first baseman Rea on what he saw from OSU's Danny Hayes after Hayes' deep fly was caught to end the game.

— Lee Barfknecht

So much for pitching and defense ruling the 67th College World Series with an iron fist.

At least for one game.

Mississippi State and Oregon State combined for 18 hits and 27 baserunners in Saturday's opener. It wasn't decided until a blast to the right-field wall had the TD Ameritrade Park crowd of 24,473 standing to see if it would be a game-winning three-run homer.

When the ball was snagged on the warning track, MSU emerged with a 5-4 victory over the No. 3 national seed, moving to the winners portion of Bracket One regardless of style points.

“We can do some pretty dumb things and still find a way to win because of the competitive nature of our kids,” Bulldogs coach John Cohen said.

“But we're really proud. We know we're fortunate to win the game. That ball's pretty well hit, and we benefited.”

Mississippi State (49-18) overcame two errors and a failed diving stab at a fly ball to rally twice and claim a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning. First baseman Wes Rea's two-out, two-run double put the Bulldogs in front.

Oregon State (50-12), which stranded two runners in the bottom of the eighth, put two men on in the ninth with one out.

MSU reliever Jonathan Holder struck out Beavers right fielder Dylan Davis for the second out, setting up a showdown with first baseman Danny Hayes.

On a 2-2 count, the left-handed Hayes hammered a drive toward the right-field bullpen. But the ball was caught three steps onto the warning track, giving Holder his 19th save of the season.

Barely.

“I think everybody might have had a shaky feeling there,” Holder said in recounting the at-bat. “I left a curveball hanging there, and he hit it pretty good.”

But not quite good enough as Holder and fellow reliever Ross Mitchell (13-0) combined for 4 1⁄3 innings of shutout relief to give Mississippi State time to rally.

“We knew it was going to take a village of pitchers to get this done,” Cohen said. “That's kind of how we've done it.”

No one in MSU's village figured out how to stop Oregon State left fielder Michael Conforto.

The Pac-12 player of the year doubled in a run in the first and eventually scored. Then he singled in the third, doubled in the fifth to push along a run, singled in the seventh and walked in the eighth.

For good measure, Conforto also made a sliding catch in left field and threw a runner out at the plate to end Mississippi State's three-run second inning.

But 10 runners left on base had OSU coach Pat Casey rubbing his head.

“When we get 10 hits, we've got to be better,” he said. “We didn't execute in certain situations. Like always, little things win and lose games.”

Contact the writer:

402-444-1024, lee.barfknecht@owh.com, twitter.com/leebeeOWH

Contact the writer: Lee Barfknecht

lee.barfknecht@owh.com    |   402-444-1024    |  

Lee Barfknecht has won nine national writing awards from four separate organizations, and is a 12-time winner of the Nebraska sportswriter of the year award. He covers Big Ten football and basketball, Nebraska basketball and other college financial issues for The World-Herald.

CWS SCHEDULE »
Friday, June 14
Opening Celebration

Saturday, June 15
Game 1: Mississippi State 5, Oregon State 4
Game 2: Indiana 2, Louisville 0

Sunday, June 16
Game 3: N.C. State 8, North Carolina 1
Game 4: UCLA 2, Louisiana State 1

Monday, June 17
Game 5: Oregon State 11, Louisville 4
Game 6: Mississippi State 5, Indiana 4

Tuesday, June 18
Game 7: North Carolina 4, LSU 2
Game 8: UCLA 2, N.C. State 1

Wednesday, June 19
Game 9: Oregon State 1, Indiana 0

Thursday, June 20
Game 10: North Carolina 7, N.C. State 0

Friday, June 21
Game 11: Mississippi State 4, Oregon State 1
Game 12: UCLA 4, North Carolina 1

Championship Series

Monday, June 24
Finals Game 1: UCLA 3, Mississippi State 1

Tuesday, June 25
Finals Game 2: UCLA 8, Mississippi State 0
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