OMAHA – Oregon State, barely breathing and down to its last strike, finally got a break Tuesday night. And it was a monster one that led to the Beavers pulling out 5-3 win to stay alive in its College World Series quest for a national championship.
Cadyn Grenier, with two outs and the tying run at third base in the top of the ninth inning, hit a foul popup down the right field line. How many Razorbacks does it take to catch a foul popup with a national championshp on the line?
Well, at least four, I guess. The ball fell untouched and Grenier lashed a two-out, two-strike single into left field to tie a game that appeared lost.
The next batter, Trevor Larnach, boomed a line-drive, two-run homer into the right-field bullpen to give the Beavers a 5-3 lead.
Freshman Kevin Able, who struck out the side in the eighth in relief, allowed a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth and gave way to Jake Mulholland. He finished it up with a strikeout and a double play.
BOOM -- series tied heading into a winner-take-all contest Thursday night.
It looked all evening as if Oregon State was just going to squander every chance it had to score. The Beavers had managed a total of only three runs in two games and Wednesday night was on its way to dropping its second straight game, and the College World Series, to the Arkansas Razorbacks – this time by a score of 3-2.
The Beavers squandered opportunities, including a bases-loaded situation with the heart of the order at the plate, a botched squeeze-play attempt and a runner at third with one out.
Oregon State got the lead-off man on in the eighth on Adley Rutschman’s single, sacrificed him to second and he moved to third on a passed ball but Arkansas lefty Matt Cronin came out of the bullpen to whiff Tyler Malone, who battled through an eight-pitch at bat. He then disposed of pinch-hitting Steven Kwan on a fly ball to left field to end the inning.
Then in the ninth, Zak Taylor worked Cronin for a walk on a 3-2 pitch and gave way to pinch-runner Zack Clayton. Andy Armstrong bunted him to second for Nick Madrigal -- the Beavers No. 4 pick in the recent MLB draft. Best spot for the best hitter, right? Madrigal grounded weakly to first for the second out of the inning and Cadyn Grenier hit a popup in foul territory that dropped untouched between three players.
New life, right? Well, YES -- and you know the rest of the story.
The Hogs got on the scoreboard with a run in the second inning on a single, hit batter and two walks, the latter with the bases loaded.
The Beavers had hit the ball hard in the first inning. Nick Madrigal and Cadyn Grenier flew out deep to straightaway center field and then Trevor Larnach and Rutschman belted line-drive singles. But Michael Gretler struck out to end the inning.
OSU starter Bryce Fehmel walked the lead-off batter in the third and was removed in favor of Brandon Eisert, who struck out the side in that inning and pitched very well through the seventh,
Rutschman got the Beavers even in the top of the fourth when he lined a 1-0 pitch into the Arkansas bullpen for a solo home run.
In the top of the fifth, Zak Taylor grounded a single into left field and Preston Jones, starting in place of injured Steven Kwan, to set the Beavers up with runners at first and second with one out.
That was the end of Razorback starter Kacey Murphy, who gave way to right-hander Jake Reindl.
Madrigal worked him for a four-pitch walk to load the bases for Grenier, who bunted for a base hit to drove in the go-ahead run.
With the bases still loaded, Larnach took a first-pitch ball before another pitching change brought in right-hander Kole Ramage from the Hog bullpen.
Larnach then struck out to bring Rutschman to the plate.
The Beaver catcher rolled an easy grounder to first to end the inning and OSU got only one run out of the inning. At that point, they’d outhit Arkansas 7-1 and led only 2-1.
And Oregon State fell victim to some bad luck in the bottom of that inning as two bloops fell in front of Beaver outfielders, leading to the game’s tying run.
Carson Shaddy then smacked a two-out single into left field and the Razorbacks had the lead back.
In the sixth, the Beavers had runners at the corners with none out but chose to squeeze again – but pinch-hitter Jack Anderson popped the bunt into a double-play and OSU went scoreless in the frame.