For a brief second, it looked like Mississippi State was going to score yet another incredible comeback – but the Oregon State Beavers were never concerned, and the team from the west won the game 5-2.
“Mully is a drama queen. He likes to make things fun,” said Beaver pitcher Kevin Abel, speaking of Oregon State’s pitcher in the 9th inning.
In true Bulldog fashion, Mississippi State took a 5-1 deficit into the bottom of the 9th inning, where they scored one run and loaded the bases before sending in Designated Hitter Jordan Westburg – the very person who started the #BananaRally trend.
But unlike so many times in the regionals and super regionals, no walk-off home run would take place this time.
“We got on a roll. And then we just thought we were good. And then we were good,” said Mississippi State Head Coach Gary Henderson. “It’s a great place, who wouldn’t want to be the baseball coach at Mississippi State?”
Coach Henderson was elevated to the role of Head Coach when the previous coach resigned after just three games.
Mississippi State’s bullpen was in hopeful spirits, right up through their last strike. “The mood was positive,” said Left Fielder Rowdey Jordan. “Like it has been all year from the last time we were down by a few runs but one strike left… we kept believing and we had a lot of momentum but just came up short.”
Beaver Jake Mulholland closed up the game in relief, but only barely. “We never doubted him. We know he’s been phenomenal all year long coming in at the end of games when we’re up ten runs or one-run ballgame,” said Abel, who pitched 7 innings himself in his 6th win of the season. He concluded his stay at the mound with only 3 hits, 1 run, and 5 strikeouts.
As the game entered the bottom of the 9th inning, Oregon State re-inserted Center Fielder Steven Kwan, previously sidelined by injury. Mulholland pitched a strikeout, and a pop fly caught for an out. He then walked two batters, allowed an RBI single, and hit a batter with a pitch before a fielder’s choice throw to 2nd base ended the game.
“He got a little tired and made a couple of mistakes, but he got the job done, that’s all that matters,” added Abel.
For Oregon State, the chance to play for a national championship is surreal. “It’s a blessing and just to be able to play for a national championship and play for the goal that we’ve had for the entire year for two years now, it’s something else,” said Beaver Adley Rutschman.
Oregon State will face Arkansas for the first of a three-game series on Monday night at 6 PM.