OMAHA, Neb. — A light mist began to fall as Oregon State readied for its penultimate at-bat in Wednesday’s College World Series elimination game.
The classic Pacific Northwest weather agreed with the Beavers’ bats.
Trailing 6-3 entering the top of the eighth inning, No. 3 OSU erupted for four runs — including a bases-clearing double from Adley Rutschman — to regain the lead in a rematch with sixth-seeded North Carolina. The Beavers added four more in the ninth, running away for an 11-6 victory before a TD Ameritrade Park crowd of 21,568 to stay alive at the CWS.
“You knew when the rain started coming, things were going to get a little weird,” designated hitter Tyler Malone said. “It’s exactly how it is at home. When the rain comes, we pull something together.”
The spirited rally earned OSU (51-11-1) a noon Friday matchup with Mississippi State in the bracket finals. The Beavers must beat the Bulldogs twice to reach next week’s best-of-3 championship series.
UNC (44-20), which defeated OSU 8-6 to open the CWS, was eliminated from the eight-team tournament.
Down to their last six outs, the Beavers started the eighth with consecutive singles from Zak Taylor and Nick Madrigal. Cadyn Grenier then worked an 11-pitch walk to bring up Rutschman, who ripped a three-RBI double over Brandon Riley’s head in dead center to tie the game.
“I know I’ve got good hitters behind me, so it kind of takes the pressure off,” Rutschman said. “I was just able to relax and get a good pitch to hit. … Being able to do that is the best feeling in the world.”
Rutschman has delivered in big spots all season, including a two-run single that helped OSU clinch the Corvallis Super Regional.
The sophomore catcher’s latest game-changing hit yielded his 75th, 76th and 77th RBIs of the year, passing Michael Conforto (76 in 2012) atop OSU’s all-time single-season list.
“I was just like ‘is this guy really going to do it again?’” outfielder Jack Anderson said. “He’s unbelievable. His name is Clutchman for a reason, and he’s an amazing guy and an amazing baseball player that loves these moments. It just goes to show that he’s the guy for us.”
UNC reliever Brett Daniels then intentionally walked pinch-hitter Steven Kwan and missed with four of five pitches to Michael Gretler, loading the bases with two outs for Anderson. The redshirt senior from Lake Oswego took a low 3-2 heater for ball four that forced in Rutschman to put OSU up 7-6.
“Once I saw it was low, I knew my job was done there,” Anderson said. “I could touch first base and have some fun with (Ryan) Oritz.”
The Beavers got right back to it in the ninth as Madrigal doubled and scored on a Trevor Larnach single. Malone later ripped a two-run homer — his second in as many games — before Anderson plated the final run with a base hit to right.
OSU batted around in the eighth and ninth following a 1-for-13 stretch in the middle innings. It was a magical Midwestern downpour.
“Obviously we play a lot of games in the rain,” Grenier said. “When the rain comes, we know there’s a possibility of a storm coming, and that’s from us.”
Rutschman finished 3 for 5 with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs. Madrigal, Grenier and Larnach had two hits apiece.
Grenier and Rutschman both homered in the opening inning. Malone later hit the team’s 64th of the year, extending the single-season school record.
OSU closer Jake Mulholland (2-2) pitched the final three innings to get the win, surrendering just one hit with two walks and a strikeout. Daniels (6-1) gave up a run on one hit with three walks in one inning to take the loss.
After Madrigal grounded out, Grenier lined UNC starter Cooper Criswell’s sixth pitch of the game over the wall in left-center. Rutschman’s opposite-field shot landed in the same section of outfield bleachers to give OSU a quick 2-0 lead.
Larnach made it 3-0 in the third by doubling home Grenier, who reached on a two-out single.
The Tar Heels tied it in the home half while chasing OSU starter Luke Heimlich. The big blow was a two-RBI double by Brandon Riley that hopped over Taylor’s head at first base.
Replay later showed the ball was likely in foul territory when it sailed past the base. The controversial play was not reviewable.
Throwing on three days rest, Heimlich gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits with a walk and no strikeouts in 2⅔ innings. He delivered 63 pitches in Saturday’s loss to UNC, allowing six runs in 2⅓ innings.
Ike Freeman put the Tar Heels up 4-3 in the fifth with an RBI single off OSU reliever Christian Chamberlain. One inning later, Brandon Martorano led off with a triple and Kyle Datres lined a two-run homer off the foul pole in left field for a 6-3 lead.
But the Beavers scored the final eight runs as coach Pat Casey improved to 20-9 in NCAA tournament elimination games.
Kwan, who had started every game of the 2018 season in center field, was only available to pinch-hit. He is officially day-to-day with a left hamstring tweak.
Anderson took Kwan’s place in center.