Yesterday began the finals for the College World Series. As a reminder for how it works: the final teams are Oregon State, Cal State Fullerton, Louisiana State, Florida State (Bracket One) and TCU, Texas A&M, Florida, and Louisville (Bracket Two). The eight teams are divided into two four-team brackets. which play double elimination until all but one team has lost twice. The top two teams from each bracket then play a best of three series, the winner of which is the national champion. Our friends at Building the Dam, who have been doing an especially excellent job lately, have this preview detailing key players for each of the matchups for Bracket One and this preview for Bracket Two.
Yesterday’s game results:
Oregon State beat out Cal State Fullerton in a thriller, mounting a comeback from a 5-1 deficit. The mighty Beavs looked mortal for the first time in a long time, with starter Jake Thompson wobbling on the mound. He couldn’t find the strike zone in the first inning, allowing two to reach and then giving up a three-run home run to Timmy Richards, who, despite being named like a child star of a 1950s sitcom, is a big strong man. Overall, CSF looks much older and more physically imposing than OSU (maybe it’s their eccentric playoff facial hair—one guy actually had a full-on waxed mustache), and things were feeling pretty dire for the Beavs as Thompson surrendered another run in the fourth and was lifted after going just 3.2 innings, the shortest start he’s made this year. Freshman Jake Mullholland relieved him and was lights-out for the next four innings, however, showing an ability to spot his pitches all over the plate and keep the aggressive CSF batters off-balance. With the CSF offense stymied, the OSU offense was able to come roaring back thanks to a key bases-loaded hit from Trevor Larnach. Former walk-on Jack Anderson then tied things up with a single. Adley Rutschman, the catcher and kicker for the football team, eventually gave the Beavs the lead in the eighth with a two-out RBI single. Rutschman got it done for the Beavs on both sides of the dish:
CSF had their own highlight reel play, with Scott Hurst robbing KJ Harrison of extra bases:
Starter Drew Rassmussen came in to lock down the save and secure the victory. for OSU’s 22nd straight victory.
Game Two, between LSU and FSU, had an eerily similar start, with Dylan Busby taking Alex Lange deep in the first to give FSU an early 2-0 lead. No, I mean DEEP—that ball cleared the batter’s eye. Lange did not look sharp to start the game, unable to put away leadoff batters, and though he finished with an impressive 8 strikeouts in his six innings of work, he allowed four runs on seven hits and walked four batters. LSU would get one back in the bottom of the first on an...odd play, when Antoine Duplantis reached on a walk, then ran for second on a wild pitch, and then just...kept running and eventually scored. Lange’s inability to retire the first batter in an inning would get him again in the third, however, as he gave up a leadoff double to Taylor Walls who was then brought home by—who else—Dylan Busby. Every time FSU scored, however, LSU was able to answer back, which they did in the bottom of the third, cutting FSU’s lead to 3-2. In the fifth inning, Lange again surrendered a run on a leadoff walk followed by two singles, only to once again be bailed out by his offense, this time with a solo home run by Michael Papierski to keep the game close at 4-3. Jared Poche’ came in to relieve Lange and shut down FSU’s offensive threats, and—again, eerily mirroring the first game of the day—the favored LSU rallied back in the eighth inning to take a one-run lead and eventually won after freshman Zack Hess came in to close out the game.
Game 1: #7 Louisville vs. Texas A&M - 11 AM PT - ESPN
Game 2: #3 Florida vs. #6 TCU - 4 PM PT - ESPN2
The winners of these games will determine who plays who in the next round, which will occur on Monday and Tuesday of next week at times that are annoyingly inconvenient for west coast-based viewers with day jobs. So far, we know Cal State Fullerton will match up with FSU on Monday at 11 AM for an elimination game, and OSU will match up with LSU on Monday at 4 PM.