June 21, 2013 10:45:19 PM
OMAHA, Neb. - Mississippi State University coach John Cohen is constantly talking about Hunter Renfroe doing things on a baseball field that normal athletes just can't do.
By hitting only the third home run in the first 11 games of the College World Series, Renfroe's shocked everyone again. His three-run bomb into the TD Ameritrade Park left field bullpen led the Bulldogs to a 4-1 victory in the bracket championship game against Oregon State University.
The victory clinched the Bulldogs first ever berth in the College World Series championship series as they'll
Renfroe and Wes Rea said after the game they were both were convinced after batting practice that the ball simply wasn't going to fly out of TD Ameritrade Park Friday afternoon. The pair of Mississippi State University power hitters were wrong and the Bulldogs first round selection took a 3-1 pitch to the shortest part of the ballpark and instantly gave MSU (51-18) a 4-0 lead.
"It's like if you don't hit it to the left side of the 375 (foot) sign, you're not going to hit a home run," Rea said. "Just seems like the ball's knocked down no matter how hard you hit it."
Knowing a home run was probably not happening with 20 mile per hour wind blowing in, Renfroe was simply looking for a pitch to drive. With his team up 1-0 already against Oregon State University star pitcher Andrew Moore, Renfroe made contact on a curveball that the freshman right hander left up in the zone.
"I was going to actually take anything but a fastball down the pipe but he put a breaking ball right on a tee for me," Renfroe said. "I had to swing because it wasn't something I had to put in the outfield with much effort."
Before the at-bat Renfroe was 2 for 10 at the plate and hadn't really contributed offensively to MSU's two previous victories as pitchers continued to fear getting beat by the first round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft.
"It's kind of a relief I guess," Renfroe said. "It didn't help this ballpark is huge and knocked a few of our home runs, including other's like Wes' down."
After the Renfroe blast, MSU took the 4-1 lead into the sixth inning and the the Bulldogs are 41-1 when needing nine outs to close out the game.
"Being real with you, going into that ninth inning with a three-run lead felt like we were winning by 100," Rea said. "That's just how close these games have been lately."
Rea's coach didn't share that feeling at all with MSU three outs from the championship series.
"I'm glad he felt that way," Cohen joked.
Moore (14-2) couldn't earn a quality start in two chances against MSU in Omaha, Neb., after the 2013 Pacific 12 Conference freshman of the year came to the College World Series with 10 consecutive outings of six innings or more.
"Renfroe's a first round draft pick and Rea is a stud," Moore said. "I got two quick outs and maybe got a little lazy there and had some good at-bats make some quality swings."
Renfroe's three-run shot echoed the feeling throughout the MSU dugout that Moore was very hittable after posting four runs against him in the first matchup on Saturday. The home run by Renfroe was his first since May 4 against the University of Alabama at Dudy Noble Field. In a season where Renfroe has 16 home runs, which ties him with Louisiana State University first baseman Mason Katz for the Southeastern Conference lead, the 91 at-bat gap between watching a ball clear the fences seemed like an eternity.
"We've played in some big parks with the SEC tournament and then here," Renfroe said. "You can't ask for anything more than just line driving a ball like I did," Renfroe said.
What MSU coach John Cohen said he loved about Renfroe's swing was it was effortless. It was exactly what was required to get a base hit and the baseball simply left the ballpark by accident. Under Cohen's regime, effort in a large quality will get you beat.
"When he goes to full effort, he pays for it all the time," Cohen said. "He doesn't need to because he's a strong as a ox so he can just flip his hands and even here sometimes the ball will leave the park."
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