Mississippi State downs Oregon State in first game of CWS

OMAHA, Neb. — Mississippi State first baseman Wes Rea ripped a two-run double into the right center field gap in the top of the eighth inning to give the Bulldogs the lead and Oregon State first baseman Danny Hayes attempt at a game-winning home run fell just short of the wall, allowing Mississippi State to advance with a 5-4 win in the first game of the College World Series.

The Bullogs advanced to play the winner of tonight’s Indiana-Louisville game at 8 p.m. on Monday. Oregon State will play the loser of that game at 3 p.m. on Monday.

“This group never quits,” Mississippi State coach John Cohen said. “They will never give in. The character of this bunch is unbelievable. We can do some pretty dumb things and still find a way to win a ball game, because of the competitive nature of our kids.”

The Bulldogs fell behind in the first thanks to two unearned runs. Oregon State shortstop Tyler Smith grounded to third to start the inning, but Mississippi State third baseman Sam Frost’s throw went wide of the bag and allowed Smith to go to third. Smith scored on a double to center by OSU center fielder Michael Conforto. Conforto later scored with two outs — when the inning should have been over — on an RBI single by Hayes.

The Bulldogs rallied for three runs in the second. Frost made up with his error with a bases-loaded single to drive in a run and left fielder Demarcus Henderson followed with a two-run single. But Oregon State took back control with an RBI triple by third baseman Kavin Keyes in the fourth and an RBI groundout by Dylan Davis in the fifth. At that point, Oregon State All-American right-hander Andrew Moore appeared to be in control and at one point retired eight straight hitters and 18 of 20 that he faced.

In the top of the eighth, however, the Beavers brought in left-hander Matt Boyd, usually their ace starter, from the bullpen. After taking a grounder from MSU right fielder Hunter Renfroe of his foot and striking out MSU’s Brett Pirtle, he surrendered the two-run double to Rea.

“I think he was probably going for a strikeout in that situation, Rea said. “He was getting swing-and-miss on change-ups. So I just went up there. He’s hitting change-ups and I was fortunate enough he threw me one in the middle of the plate I was able to do something with.”

That made it 5-4, and the Bulldogs were able to hold on thanks to closer Jonathan Holder, who allowed just one hit and struck out three batters in 1 2/3 scoreless innings to get the save, his 19th of the season. Holder got in some trouble by giving up a leadoff single to shortstop Tyler Smith to start the ninth, then walking Conforto with one out. He struck out Dylan Davis with runners on first and second, however. Hayes hit his 2-2 pitch a long way and got the fans in the bleachers standing believing that it was headed toward them, but it came down in Renfroe’s glove to end the game.

“I think everybody might have had a shaky feeling there,” Holder said. “But I left a curveball hanging in there for a second and he hit it pretty good. I thought he might have got it a little off the end of the bat and the wind helped me out a little bit. But like Coach Cohen said, sometimes it falls for you, sometimes it doesn’t. And today it was in our favor.”

Oregon State coach Pat Casey said he will start left-hander Ben Wetzler in Monday’s elimination game.