Beavs fall to Mississippi State in game 1 of College World Series
Play that game in any other college baseball park, and Oregon State would be celebrating a 7-5 win courtesy Danny Hayes' two-out, two-strike walk-off home run.
Unfortunately, that did not happen in the cavernous confines of Omaha's TD Ameritrade Park.
Hayes, who had flipped his bat in anticipated celebration upon crushing Jonathan Holder's filthy breaking ball to right field, rounded first base in disgust when he saw Mississippi State right fielder Hunter Renfroe make the catch while crashing up against the wall. It certainly wasn't a pleasant start to Oregon State's stay in Omaha: the Bulldogs had held on to beat the Beavers 5-4.
TD Ameritrade Park, which replaced Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium as the home of the College World Series in 2011, has quickly developed a reputation as a pitcher's haven (in fact, a college hitter has yet to hit one out of the ballpark to dead center field). Oregon State, which is making its first appearance at the event since they won the national title in 2007, found this out the hard way on Saturday afternoon.
Just one inning earlier, the Beavers had blown a 4-3 lead when Mississippi State first baseman Wes Rea doubled in the tying and go-ahead runs to right center off of Oregon State reliever Matt Boyd, who Pat Casey had shifted from starting duties (where he had been stellar as the team's Friday night hurler) to fortify the bullpen. Rea's hit negated a solid performance from freshman starter Andrew Moore, who dealt 7.1 innings but was ultimately charged with four earned runs.
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Super sophomore Michael Conforto was sensational for Casey's club. He reached base five times while finishing 4-for-4 and saving a run from the outfield. His strong throw from left nailed the Bulldogs' Sam Frost at home plate in the second, ending a three-run Mississippi State rally and setting the Beavers up for their tying and go-ahead strikes in the fourth and the fifth frames.
But since Boyd could not shut the door and Hayes could not overpower TD Ameritrade, it turned out to be a demoralizing loss to open the double-elimination tournament for Oregon State. The Beavers will be back in action at noon PT on Monday when they will face the loser of tonight's Louisville-Indiana contest.
David Lombardi has covered Pac-12 baseball since 2007. He’s a play-by-play voice and on-air reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area. He’s on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.