Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

77°F

Portland

Partly Cloudy

Humidity: 52%

Wind: 14 mph

  • 30 Jul 2014

    Clear 87°F 59°F

  • 31 Jul 2014

    Mostly Sunny 90°F 61°F


Beavers' hopes fly away at College World Series

by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Oregon State's baseball team, under coach Pat Casey, bowed out of the College World Series on Friday.OMAHA, Neb. -- They say TD Ameritrade Park is the place where fly balls go to die.

But Hunter Renfroe's didn't.

The Mississippi State right-fielder's three-run, fifth-inning homer proved the death knell to Oregon State's national championship bid Friday with the Bulldogs' 4-1 victory.

Mississippi State's second win over OSU in a week spelled the end of the Beavers' College World Series title dream.

There were teary eyes and hung heads as the OSU players trudged into the locker room for the final time this season. The Beavers had stared down elimination twice, beating Louisville and Indiana to set up another shot at Mississippi State. They didn't want a storybook ride to end.

"Our guys are disappointed," coach Pat Casey said at a post-game press conference. "And I think they're more disappointed that they won't get to play together as a team again."

The Beavers stressed a brotherhood theme throughout the season. It was genuine.

"It's the closest team I've seen in my life," junior catcher Jake Rodriguez said as he made his way back to the OSU locker room. "We're more than a team. We're going to be friends forever. The effort we've put forth since September has been unbelievable. It took all of us to get here. While we were here, we had our backs to the wall two games and showed our character.

"This team has been relentless. We've been playing for each other all year long. I love each and every one of those guys in there. We have memories that will last us the rest of our lives. Can't say enough about the guys who are part of this team."

On Friday, Mississippi State used the same pitching trio it had employed in a 5-4 victory over Oregon State in the CWS opener last Saturday -- starter Kendall Graveman and relievers Ross Mitchell and Jonathan Holder. Graveman was even better Friday than he had been in the first game, limiting OSU to four hits and a run over 5 2/3 innings. Mitchell and Holder were unyielding as usual. In the two games against the Beavers, they combined to throw 8 1/3 innings of eight-hit, shutout ball.

But Mississippi State's heavyweight Friday was Renfroe, taken by San Diego with the 13th pick in the recent major-league draft. The 6-1, 215-pound junior provided the Bulldogs with all the offense they would need when he deposited Andrew Moore's 3-1 curveball into the bullpen beyond the left-field fence for a 4-0 lead, only the third round-tripper in 11 CWS games so far.

"I tried to bury it because I knew we had (first) base open," said Moore, who suffered the loss to finish his freshman season with a 14-2 record. "I made a mistake, left it up a little bit. (Renfroe) is a great player and made me pay for it."

"I didn't think it was going out right away," said Renfroe of his 16th homer of the season. "The ballpark plays huge, and the wind makes it play even bigger. I hit it on the end of the bat, really, but was able to get enough backspin to it to hit it out."

Oregon State came back with a run in the sixth when Max Gordon led off with a walk and scored on Andy Peterson's two-out single. The Beavers got a runner in scoring position in each of the final three innings and twice brought the tying run to the plate. But they weren't able to take advantage of those opportunities, a problem they had throughout the CWS.

"We couldn't get a hit when we needed one today," Casey said. "We were facing very good pitching. Mississippi State got here with (its) pitching. I thought we had a chance to create an inning but we didn't get it done."

Mississippi State first baseman Wes Rea said going into the ninth with a 4-1 lead, "It felt like we were ahead by 100."

"I'm glad he felt that way," MSU coach John Cohen said, smiling. "It was like a heavyweight fight. Every time (the Beavers) got us into a cripple count, we hit a ball really hard. When we got them in cripple counts, they hit balls really hard. There were a ton of line drives being hit right at people.

"But we did what we've always done. We got the hit when we really needed it, and Hunter's was the difference-maker."

Casey said he will emphasize the positive when he gathers his players for a final team meeting.

"We'll talk about, it's not easy right now, but you're going to start realizing what you did," he said. "You won a Pac-12 championship. You won a regional and super regional. You got to the championship in your (CWS) bracket. Pretty special.

"These guys accomplished a lot. I want them to feel that part of it instead of disappointment. I want them to have a great sense of pride in what they accomplished. But I have to let them take their time. It's going to hurt for awhile."

Sophomore left-fielder Michael Conforto fought back tears when asked what he'll remember most about this year's Oregon State team.

"The first that thing that pops into my head is the amazing pitching we had," Conforto said. "You don't come by pitching staffs like that very often. We were the best pitching staff in the Series. It's unbelievable the way the pitching was. And I'll remember all the teammates I spent every day with. It's going to be really hard to get over the fact we're never going to play again."

Casey is particularly appreciative of the seniors who played a key role, players such as shortstop Tyler Smith, first baseman Danny Hayes, designated hitter Ryan Barnes and center fielder Max Gordon. Pitcher Matt Boyd turned down a six-figure contract offer from Cincinnati to return for his senior season.

"It's no secret I have strong feelings about the kind of kid 'Matty' is and what he did for our program and our school," Casey said. "This is tough for all of us. There's not a guy on that club who doesn't hurt right now. The deeper you're into it, the tougher it is. There's a little piece of those freshmen and sophomores who think, 'Hey, we get a chance to make another run at this.' The seniors won't get that opportunity again.

"We had a heck of a year. There were 298 teams playing (Division I baseball) this season. Eight show up at Omaha. Seven of them lose their last game and feel like they had a poor season. We're not hanging our heads at all."

No reason for that. There was no championship for Oregon State this season. There were a lot of winners, though, in that locker room.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Twitter: @kerryeggers