OMAHA, Neb. – It didn’t look good early for top-seeded Oregon State.
The Beavers (55-4) trailed 3-0 in the first and 5-1 in the fourth before settling down. OSU scored four in the sixth and one in the eighth to pull out a 6-5 win over Cal State Fullerton Saturday afternoon in Game 1 of the 2017 College World Series in front of 22,656 fans at TD Ameritrade Park.
“We just battled,” said Pat Casey, OSU head coach. “That’s kind of the way we’ve done it all year long.”
The Beavers used a two-out rally in the eighth to produce the game-winner for their 22nd consecutive victory. Trevor Larnach singled up the middle with two away and moved to second when Jack Anderson was hit by a pitch. Adley Rutschman delivered a single to left to plate Larnach with the go-ahead run.
“We like to battle,” Larnach said. “Coach Casey instilled that attitude in us, just battle and never give in, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Drew Rasmussen took over on the mound in the top of the ninth and registered a pair of strikeouts and a flyout to record his second save.
OSU will face LSU on Monday at 6 p.m. CT in a winners’ bracket game. Fullerton and Florida State will meet in an elimination game on Monday at 1 p.m. CT.
OSU took advantage of four walks in the sixth to tie the game. Reliever Colton Eastman walked three of the first four batters he faced and a sacrifice fly by Nick Madrigal made it a 5-2 game. After another walk loaded the bases, Eastman fell behind 2-0 to Larnach.
“He’s our best guy,” said Rick Vanderhook, Fullerton head coach, of Eastman. “For me, he’s one of the best guys here, and I didn’t want to get beat twice and not have my best guy pitch. He was on normal good rest. [Connor] Seabold was battling, but he was at 97 pitches. Didn’t have a 1-2-3 inning. Everything was stressful every inning. He got out of it, but I figured let’s roll. We’ll go with him, with Eastman for two, three, and then go to [closer Brett] Conine and close it out. Obviously, it didn’t work.”
The Titans (39-23) went to the bullpen to bring in Blake Workman. Larnach delivered a two-run single to center to make it 5-4.
“I’m just looking for a fastball,” Larnach said, “and he threw one that I wasn’t going to offer at because it was black. Just waiting for something I could hit, and he left one up for me, and I just took advantage of it.”
Jack Anderson singled over the second base bag to plate the tying run.
Freshman Jake Mulholland (7-1) was money in relief for OSU. He entered after the Titans took a 5-1 lead in the fourth and worked 4.1 innings, facing the minimum 13 batters.
“I was using my slider and curveball often early in counts,” Mulholland said, “and when I was able to have a well-placed fastball, it was working well. Just keeping hitters off balance any way I can.”
Mulholland (pictured) walked one, which was eliminated on a double play, and struck out a pair.
“Mully was really good,” Casey said. “He just carved, goes in, out, soft, firm. He’s a contrast to the velocity of [starter] Jake Thompson, and I imagine that Drew looked like he was throwing 200 when he got in the game after Mully’s stuff.”
Seabold pitched well enough to win, going five innings with six hits, one run, one walk and two strikeouts.
The Titans took the lead quickly in the first as a walk to Scott Hurst and a Dillon Persinger plunking preceded Timmy Richards’ 409′ blast to left center on a 3-1 pitch to make it an early 3-0 advantage.
“Any time you go up there to take the first four pitches, you kind of get your timing down,” Richards said. “I felt like I was right on top of that. I don’t think I could have taken a better swing to that ball.”
OSU scratched for a run in the second as Cadyn Gretler doubled the other way to lead off the inning and scored on a fielder’s choice by Steven Kwan to make it a 3-1 contest.
Hudgins had a huge hit in the fourth, a two-run single with two away to push the lead to 5-1 and ended the day for OSU starter Thompson (3.2 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 1 K).
Anderson reached base five times, going 3 for 3 and was hit twice by pitches. Madrigal and Larnach both had two hits.
“I just think near the end of games we found ways to win all year,” Anderson said. “Just the way things were going, that was exactly what we expected to happen.”