Mississippi State 4, Oregon State 1
Hunter Renfroe hit a three-run homer off the back wall of the left-field bullpen, and Mississippi State advanced to the College World Series finals with a 4-1 victory over Oregon State on Friday in Omaha, Neb.
The Bulldogs (51-18) beat the Beavers for the second time in the CWS and will play for the first time in the best-of-three championship round that starts Monday against UCLA.
Oregon State (52-13) went 2-2 in its first CWS appearance since winning back-to-back national championships in 2006-07.
Renfroe’s homer off freshman left-hander Andrew Moore (14-2) was only the third in 11 CWS games and put the Bulldogs up 4-0 in the fifth inning.
Kendall Graveman (7-5) worked the first 5⅔ innings, allowing one run on four hits. Ross Mitchell and Jonathan Holder finished, with Holder getting the last two outs for his 21st save of the season and school-record 30th save of his career.
It’s the sixth consecutive year a team from the Southeastern Conference has reached the finals.
The Bulldogs built on a 1-0 lead after Moore retired their first two batters in the fifth. Adam Frazier and Alex Detz singled before Renfroe, the No. 13 overall pick by San Diego in the recent draft, drove Moore’s 3-1 breaking ball for his first home run since May 4 and 16th of the season.
Moore gave up four runs on nine hits in 4⅔ innings, his shortest outing of the season. Jace Fry pitched 3⅓ innings of two-hit shutout relief, but the Beavers’ offense couldn’t crack Mitchell and Holder.
Mississippi State had beaten the Beavers 5-4 in the CWS opener, with Danny Hayes’ deep fly to right dying on the warning track in the bottom of the ninth inning.
There was no such drama this time.
The Bulldogs’ Brett Pirtle extended his streak of reaching base to 42 games, and Renfroe extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
Graveman also started the first game against the Beavers, but he allowed four runs in 4⅔ innings that day and was let off the hook when Wes Rea doubled in the winning runs in the eighth.
Graveman, the eighth-round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, is now 3-0 in four NCAA Tournament appearances.
Oregon State left fielder Michael Conforto turned in perhaps the best defensive play of the CWS when he robbed Wes Rea of extra bases in the second inning.
Conforto retreated to the warning track on Rea’s fly, jumped to make the catch and held on as he slammed against the wall.
UCLA 4, North Carolina 1
Pat Valaika’s two-run double gave UCLA some cushion, record-setting closer David Berg survived a rocky ninth inning and UCLA defeated top-seeded North Carolina Friday night to move to the championship round.
The Tar Heels (59-12) twice loaded the bases in the ninth against Berg but came away with only one run, with the game ending on Landon Lassiter’s flyout to center.
Grant Watson (9-3) allowed four hits in six innings. Carolina’s Kent Emanuel (11-5) gave up five singles in six innings.
UCLA opened the CWS with 2-1 victories over LSU and North Carolina State.
The Bruins, with eight total runs, matched 1976 Eastern Michigan for fewest by a team in the metal-bat era that won its first three CWS games.