OMAHA, Neb. – Oregon State’s season ended with the Beavers waiting for the big hit that never came.
The Beavers were eliminated from the College World Series in a 4-1 loss to Mississippi State Friday. The Bulldogs advanced to the CWS finals with the victory.
Oregon State advanced runners to second base in six innings but could get only one home. The Beavers were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and hit into three double plays.
“This certainly isn’t the way we planned it, and it wasn’t for a lack of effort,” coach Pat Casey said. “We couldn’t get a hit when we needed one. I think that’s happened before to all teams. Obviously we were facing very good pitching. Mississippi State got here with their pitching, and the starter was good.”
The Beavers were down 1-0 in the fifth when Hunter Renfroe delivered the key blow for the Bulldogs, a three-run homer off the back wall of the left-field bullpen.
The Bulldogs (51-18) beat the Beavers for the second time in the CWS. Oregon State (52-13) went 2-2 in its first CWS appearance since winning back-to-back national titles in 2006-07.
“Omaha’s a crazy place,” left fielder Michael Conforto said. “We had a lot of fun while we’re here. It’s just frustrating the way we ended it. There’s a lot of positives we can take from this. We’re going to grow as a team next year. We’ve got a lot of guys coming back.”
Renfroe’s homer off freshman left-hander Andrew Moore (14-2) was only the third in 11 CWS games.
Mississippi State’s Kendall Graveman (7-5) worked the first 5 2-3 innings, allowing one run on four hits. Ross Mitchell and Jonathan Holder finished, with Holder getting the last two outs for his 21st save of the season and school-record 30th of his career.
It’s the sixth straight year a team from the Southeastern Conference has reached the finals.
The Bulldogs built on a 1-0 lead after Moore retired their first two batters in the fifth. Adam Frazier and Alex Detz singled before Renfroe, the No. 13 overall pick by San Diego in this month’s draft, drove Moore’s 3-1 breaking ball for his 16th home run of the season but first since May 4.
Moore gave up four runs on nine hits in 4 2-3 innings, his shortest outing of the season. Jace Fry pitched 3 1-3 innings of two-hit shutout relief, but the Beavers’ offense couldn’t crack Mitchell and Holder.
Mississippi State had beaten the Beavers 5-4 in the CWS opener, with Danny Hayes’ deep fly to right dying on the warning track in the bottom of the ninth inning.
There was no such drama this time.
The Bulldogs’ Brett Pirtle extended his streak of reaching base to 42 games, and Renfroe extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
Graveman also started the first game against the Beavers, but he allowed four runs in 4 2-3 innings that day and was let off the hook when Wes Rea doubled in the winning runs in the eighth.
Conforto turned in perhaps the best defensive play of the CWS when he robbed Wes Rea of extra bases in the second inning. Conforto retreated to the warning track on Rea’s fly, jumped to make the catch and held on as he slammed against the wall.
Beavers shortstop Tyler Smith was so impressed that he went out to left to give Conforto a hug. Conforto later threw out Rea at the plate after catching a ball in foul territory.
Casey said the play on Rea brought energy to the dugout.
“We’ve been talking all yearlong about how good a defender he is,” Casey said. “It gets overlooked, but he gets great jumps on the ball. It was an inspiration to our club.”