Oregon State designated hitter Tyler Malone (7) celebrates Saturday after hitting a three-run home run in the third inning against Mississippi State in the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska. Malone’s home run was part of a five-run inning that was all the Beavers needed to beat the Bulldogs 5-2 to advance the best-of-three championship series. Photo by: Steven Branscombe/USA TODAY Sports
June 24, 2018 12:17:30 AM
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
OMAHA, Neb. -- One of the most hectic seasons in Mississippi State baseball history ended Saturday night.
Now, another hectic period for the program is set to begin.
MSU's season ended one win shy of a return to the College World Series Championship Series with a 5-2 loss to No. 3 national seed Oregon State at TD Ameritrade Park.
Gary Henderson, the man who led the Bulldogs to Omaha as interim coach, will have to wait to learn if he will have an opportunity to lead the program as its full-time head coach.
"I'm just really optimistic," Henderson said. "That's (MSU Director of Athletics John) Cohen's decision. He'll do a good job with it. We're kind of in, you know? We'd like to stay there. I love this assistant coach staff we have. We started something special.
"The fans are in. We'd like to stay and make a run of it. It's a great place. Who wouldn't want to be the baseball coach at Mississippi State? I do."
Henderson, who took over after the resignation of Andy Cannizaro three games into the season, impressed many in MSU's improbable run to Omaha.
"Gary Henderson, the job he's had at Mississippi State is second to none. That's pretty impressive," Oregon State coach Pat Casey said.
Optimism surrounding the 2019 MSU squad figures to be high considering the Bulldogs are expected to return their starting outfield and could return their starting infield. Unfortunately, MSU and its fans will be left to think about 2019 after the Beavers (53-11-1) beat the Bulldogs (39-29) on back-to-back nights.
MSU had only four hits Saturday against the tandem of freshman starting pitcher Kevin Abel and Jake Mulholland. Abel allowed three hits and one run in seven innings. Rowdey Jordan's RBI single in the third was the only blemish against Abel, who walked three and struck out five in a 95-pitch outing.
"We really didn't get to a spot where we were able to solve Kevin Abel," Henderson said.
Trailing 5-1 entering the bottom of the ninth, MSU used walks by right fielder Elijah MacNamee and third baseman Justin Foscue to set up shortstop Luke Alexander's RBI single. Mulholland hit Tanner Poole, who pinch hit for Dustin Skelton, to load the bases. But Mulholland induced Westburg, who hit a grand slam and had seven RBIs in MSU's victory against North Carolina earlier in the tournament, to ground out to end the game.
MSU starting pitcher Ethan Small struck out two of the first three batters he faced before his fortunes reversed. He worked out of a jam in the second after Oregon State put runners on second and third with no outs.
The Beavers touched Small for five runs with two outs in the third. Small allowed a double and three singles in consecutive at-bats. Sophomore designated hitter Tyler Malone's three-run home run, his eighth of the season, provided insurance.
Cole Gordon replaced Small after 4 2/3 innings and recorded a strikeout to end the fifth. He allowed one hit, walked none, and struck out three.
Jordan had two hits and an RBI for the Bulldogs. Jake Mangum also had a hit.
Adley Rutschman and Michael Gretler had two hits for the Beavers.
Oregon State is back in the championship series for the first time since 2007, when it won the second of back-to-back national titles. It will face Arkansas in the best-of-three College World Series Championship Series. Game 1 will be at 6 p.m. Monday (ESPN).
Much like in a 12-2 loss to Oregon State on Friday, MSU had plenty of hard contact that went unrewarded. That fact was never more evident than in the sixth, when a wild pitch moved runners to second and third, but MacNamee lined to third baseman Gretler, who threw to second base for a double play that ended the inning.