UW Falls To MSU In 1-0 Heartbreaker In Omaha
OMAHA, Neb. — In a game featuring two teams that reached the College World Series thanks to late-inning heroics throughout the postseason, it was no surprise that the Washington baseball team’s debut in Omaha finished in dramatic – though disappointing – fashion as Mississippi State scored the game’s lone run in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Huskies, 1-0.
The Bulldogs (38-27) spoiled Washington’s first-ever College World Series game, ending the thriller with three, ninth-inning singles, the last of which, a drive from Luke Alexander that dropped beyond the UW’s shallow outfield, scored Hunter Stovall, who had led off the ninth with a single.
The Huskies (35-25) next face Pac-12 rival Oregon State in an elimination game, Monday at 11:00 a.m. PT on ESPN. The winner of that game will face the loser of the Mississippi State-North Carolina game, which will be played later on Monday.
UW closer Alex Hardy (5-3), who came on with one out in the eighth, suffered the loss. MSU reliever Zach Neff (4-3) got the last two outs in the top of the ninth to get the win.
In the bottom of the ninth, Stovall and Elijah MacNamee singled to lead off. The Huskies caught a break when Justin Foscue popped up a bunt attempt for the first out, leaving the runners at first and second. But with the Husky outfield playing shallow in the scoreless game, the shot from Alexander fell in to drive in the winning run.
“The way the ballpark plays and with the fact that the winning run’s on second base, we weren’t going to let anything fall in front of us,” said ninth-year Husky Head Coach Lindsay Meggs . “That’s the percentage play (but) the guy puts a good swing on it. I don’t know that we catch it no matter where we are, but that’s why we were where we were was to give us a chance to throw somebody out.”
The TD Ameritrade Park crowd of 24,758, the largest ever to watch a UW baseball game, was treated to a top-class pitchers’ duel that was heavy on tension and rock solid defense.
“If you like pitching and defense, I think that’s a heck of a college baseball game,” Meggs said. “Not everybody does. I do.”
Neither team had mounted a serious offensive attack until the top of the third, when the Huskies started to threaten.
After an out, the Huskies got two aboard on back-to-back singles from Jonathan Schiffer and Mason Cerillo. After a balk moved those two runners to second and third, Mississippi State starter Ethan Small plunked UW center fielder Braiden Ward in the back with a curve ball to load the bases with just one out.
But, the first pitch to Husky catcher Nick Kahle was grounded sharply to the shortstop, who started a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning with the game still scoreless.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Bulldogs advanced their first runner past second bases as two-out singles from Stovall and MacNamee put runners at the corners. But, the 0-0 score remained on the board as DeMers fielded a high chopper back to the mound for the third out.
It wasn’t until the top of the sixth before the UW got another runner to third base as Ward singled, stole second and moved to third on a flyout, but Small fanned Husky slugger Joe Wainhouse to strand Ward.
Small, the MSU starter, didn’t figure in the decision, working seven scoreless innings. He allowed four hits and didn’t walk a batter while striking out five on 104 pitches, 71 of them for strikes.
DeMers worked until the bottom of the eighth, when a one-out double from Jake Mangum prompted a call to the bullpen and the senior closer, Hardy. DeMers, the Husky ace, pitched seven and one-third innings, allowing seven hits and a walk with two strikeouts. He threw just 72 pitches, 55 of them strikes, and induced 14 groundouts (two of them double plays).
Hardy got DeMers off the hook by getting a pair of groundouts to strand Mangum at third to end the eighth inning with the scoreboard still showing zeroes.
“Joe pitched his heart out for us and Hardy came in behind him and did the same thing,” said senior shortstop Levi Jordan . “We played great defense behind him, just couldn’t get that hit and couldn’t get guys around the bases well enough to score enough runs to support our staff, and the result was what it was.”
In the top of the ninth, the Huskies got singles from Kahle and Levi Jordan , but couldn’t push a run across.
Earlier Saturday, in the first game of the 2018 College World Series, North Carolina beat Oregon State, 8-6, in the longest nine-inning game in CWS history (four hours, 24 minutes).