OMAHA – At the center of Oregon State’s 4-1 College World Series loss to Arkansas Tuesday night, there was a very strange, game-turning call in the bottom of the fourth inning that left OSU coaches and players befuddled.
As well they should have been.
The Beavers had Trevor Larnach at third and Adley Rutschman at first with nobody out when Tyler Malone scorched a hot one-hopper at Arkansas first baseman Jared Gates. Gates made a fine play on the ball and threw to second to try to start a double play.
He got Rutschman at second but there was no chance to get Malone at first, with Larnach trotting across the plate to give Oregon State a 2-0 lead.
But hold on – second base umpire Chris Coskey called interference on Rutschman, ruling not only him out but Malone, too. And on interference, the rule is Larnach had to return to third. It was almost like giving the 'Backs a triple play.
The Beavers didn’t end up scoring in the inning.
An argument ensued and OSU Coach Pat Casey was told by Coskey that Rutschman made contact with the infielder at second.
Except he didn’t. Replay showed no contact.
“He (Caskey) said he made contact with him and (Rutschman) wasn’t anywhere near him,” Casey said afterward. “All he was trying to do was duck and get out of the way. There were a couple of feet of separation.”
It was a ridiculous call made worse by the Razorbacks storming back for four runs in the top of the next inning.
Asked if the call was a gut punch to his team, Casey said, “You’re ahead 2-0 with a guy at first base. Pretty good momentum swing.
“(But) We had opportunities later in the game and didn’t take advantage of them.”
They had another chance later when Cadyn Grenier’s liner down the right-field line with Steven Kwan on first was originally called foul, only to be reversed on replay.
The umpires had no choice but to place the base runners where they thought they would be on a fair ball.
They put Kwan at third and Grenier on first. Grenier insisted later that he had an easy double on the ball and Kwan said, “I truly believe I would have scored on it.”
But that didn’t go OSU’s way either as Nick Madrigal lined out to end the inning.
On the other hand, the Beavers had plenty of blame to take for themselves.
“The key to the game is we put 10 runners on base,” Casey said We walked seven guys and hit three. Pretty tough to win a game when you put 10 runners on base.”