2018 College World Series: Oregon State's two-out, ninth-inning rally forces decisive Game 3
With one foot in the proverbial grave and within a caught popup of seeing their season end, Oregon State rallied from their final strike to score three runs in the top of the ninth and force a decisive Game 3 of the College World Series on Thursday in Omaha, Nebraska.
Oregon State 5, Arkansas 3
Things looked bleak for the Beavers. Down 3-2, two outs, a 2-2 count on shortstop Cadyn Grenier. As the junior hit a popup into foul territory down the right-field line with three Razorbacks in pursuit, it seemed as though Arkansas would claim its first NCAA baseball title. But the popup fell and gave life to OSU. On the very next pitch, Grenier singled home pinch runner Zach Clayton to tie things up at 3-3.
The next batter, Trevor Larnach, put an exclamation point on the improbable rally by launching a two-run homer into the bullpen in right field to give the Beavs a 5-3 advantage. Following a leadoff single by Arkansas' Jax Biggers, Jake Mulholland closed the door, striking out Eric Cole before starting a 1-4-3 double play.
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 28, 2018
Before things spun on a dime in the top of the ninth, the story of the game had been missed opportunities for the Beavers. Down a run in the eighth inning, Adley Rutschman led off with a single. After reaching second on a sacrifice bunt, Tyler Malone (strikeout) and Steve Kwan (flyball), who pinch hit despite a nagging hamstring injury that's kept him out of the lineup, failed to drive in the equalizing run.
Oregon State also seemed set up for a big inning in the sixth. Michael Gretler reached on a throwing error to start the frame. The next batter, Malone, laced a solid single to advance Gretler to third. But then Jack Anderson popped up a safety squeeze bunt attempt. Razorback pitcher Kole Ramage caught the soft popup in the air and whirled to double off Gretler at third. First baseman Zak Taylor would ground out to end the threat.
After jumping on the scoreboard in the second inning on a wild pitch, Arkansas had taken a 3-2 lead in the fifth on a pair of clutch hits. Luke Bonfield followed up a back-to-back, one-out singles with a flyball that fell just in front of a sliding Preston Jones in center. The Razorbacks' Casey Martin raced around from second base just ahead of the throw to even things up at two. Carson Shaddy put Arkansas back up with a two-out single that scored Heston Kjerstad and made it 3-2.
Adley Rutschman got OSU on the board in the fourth, knotting things at 1-1 with a deep solo shot into the left-field bleachers. In the top of the fifth, Zak Taylor got things going with a one-out single. Preston Jones followed with a bunt single before Nick Madrigal walked to load the bases. OSU scored once with Taylor racing home on a Cadyn Grenier bunt single. But a Larnach strikeout and a flyout by Rutschman left more to be desired.
The Beavs are now one win away from the school's third College World Series title. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m. PT Thursday on ESPN2.