Mississippi State is handing the ball again to Kendall Graveman (7-5, 3.17) for Friday’s afternoon contest with Oregon State in this bracket championship round. The senior righthander threw the first Bulldog pitch of this College World Series last Saturday, too, and was able to work 4.2 innings into this first contest of the entire national championship tournament.
Graveman didn’t get a decision, allowing six hits for four runs (only the latter two earned) with a walk and strikeout. But as is Mississippi State’s post-season procedure he was able to get his squad and more importantly staff half-way into the game. And then, turn everything over to a Bulldog bullpen which has been the team trump card.
Against Oregon State it was lefty Ross Mitchell going the next 2.2 scoreless innings, then turning a lead over for Jonathan Holder to close out. This has also been a standard State script, which is how Mitchell has run his amazing record to 13-0; and Holder pick up a 20th save of this record-setting season.
That opening-day victory and a Monday win over Indiana, by the same 5-4 final score, has put the Bulldogs in this stronger bracket-finals position. State can earn a berth in the best-of-three championship series next week by winning either this game, or if necessary coming back Saturday to play Oregon State again. That is not the ideal route of course, as each look at Bulldog arms improves the odds for a Beaver batting order that has clawed out two wins to remain alive in Omaha. Two more is well within their abilities.
So is another outstanding and maybe even-better outing from today’s starter. Oregon State will also reprise their plan by throwing Andrew Moore (14-1, 1.57) a second time against State.
The freshman, and righthander, came close to dominating the Dogs the first time out. If not for a key second inning where the bottom of the MSU order delivered two timely hits for three runs, Oregon State could easily be sitting in the prettier position today. Moore was able to work 7.1 total innings with four runs, all earned, charged on 6 hits with just two walks and two strikeouts. It was the Beaver bullpen taking the loss, though Matt Boyd more than redeemed that rare lapse with a superb full-route win over Indiana that sent Oregon State into this rematch.
In fact the Beavers have used just four arms in their three games, with a .250 batting average against and 22 strikeouts against seven walks. In their two wins State pitchers have a .260 average against, 20 strikeouts and five walks.
If #3 national seed Oregon State (52-12) forces a rubber game it will be 2:00 Saturday. The Bulldogs, today playing their latest game-date every on the summer solstice, are looking to reach the College World Series title round for the first time ever regardless of format. This team has already matched the 1985 squad’s 2-0 start in Omaha. That club played under the old double-elimination format and finished third overall.