Omaha, Neb. -- Oregon State managed to stay alive yet again. Despite seeing the hottest team in college baseball right now, the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the Beavers proved why they, coming into the tournament, were a favorite to win the whole thing. Hot bats and a return to solid pitching form gave OSU a 12-2 landslide victory over the Bulldogs to keep the dreams of a national title alive.
Even with all of the struggles surrounding pitching in this tournament, Bryce Fehmel gave the Beavs a solid start while Brandon Eisert performed solidly in relief, keeping an offense that hung 12 runs on North Carolina earlier in the week to 2 at TD Ameritrade Park. That pitching, a hallmark of this Oregon State team all season long, had been noticeably absent heading into Friday afternoon's game. Luke Heimlich, the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, has turned in his two shortest performances of the season in Omaha while the offense was needed to propel the Beavers over the University of Washington in the second round loser-bracket elimination game. Today was a day head coach Pat Casey wanted and needed. A return to form, of sorts.
The offense, however, has had no trouble in Omaha so far, finishing games with totals of six, fourteen, eleven and now twelve runs. Things blew open in the bottom of the third with Adley Rutschman, the new single season RBI record holder, hitting a 2 RBI single to clear the bases and bring the margin up to 5. With Eisert pitching admirably in the middle innings, it seemed that a 6-1 victory would carry heading into the later innings.
With a team that has done nothing but perform at the plate past the 6th in this tournament, the Beavers decided to pour it on. Zak Taylor's standup 2 RBI triple pushed the margin to 9-2 in the bottom of the 7th, and Oregon State walked into the 8th with an 11-2 lead. The team is now 17-1 playing in games on Friday.
What comes next is a fairly simple proposition: win and go the College World Series Finals. Lose, and go back to Corvallis empty handed. Mississippi State will most likely be trotting out their ace pitcher, Ethan Small for Saturday's matchup, while the man on the bump for Oregon State will be more of a mystery, with Kevin Abel or even Heimlich being choices for coach Pat Casey.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN, with either a 3 p.m EST or 8 p.m. EST start.