It’s over for Mississippi State baseball’s NCAA baseball tournament hopes.
The Bulldogs’ magical postseason dance ended on Saturday night in Omaha, Nebraska, after dropping a 5-2 loss to Oregon State. The Bulldogs clawed their way out of a No. 2 seed in the Tallahassee regional all the way to the final day of the College World Series’ opening round final day, but in the end they couldn’t handle OSU’s stout pitching staff and big bats.
CLANGA topped Washington in perhaps the best game of the college baseball season on the CWS’ opening day, 1-0, then went on to beat 2018 powerhouse North Carolina two days later. Oregon State lost their opener to UNC, but fought their way through the rest of the bracket without a loss to match up with the Bulldogs, who still had one loss to give.
The Bulldogs lost the first bout with the Beavers, 12-2, in a game that felt like a back-breaker. And apparently it was. The Bulldogs could not find real contact against OSU starter Bryce Fehmel, logging just five hits to the Beavers’ 15. Bulldog leadoff man Jake Mangum, who’s hit .351 on the year, logged just a single hit and no RBI on Thursday.
In sum, the Bulldogs’ first game with Oregon State was a total disaster.
On Saturday night, the CLANGA dream ended.
Oregon State floundered at times throughout the postseason, but the Beavs did the work in clutch spots, especially against CLANGA. It’s tough work to beat a team twice in a row — especially one as hot as Mississippi State in this postseason — but OSU’s bats showed up on Thursday and Saturday to punch their way through to the College World Series’ final round.
Much of the Beavers’ offensive work dropped in the third inning, when they crossed five runs in the top of the frame, but perhaps the height of Mississippi State’s overreach manifested itself with an ambitious try by trusty bat Mangum, who tried to extend an easy single into a stretch double and was closely gunned out at second in the bottom of the fifth. That ended the inning, after MSU had landed a man on first off a walk and was working counts well to move ducks around the pond.
Mangum, for his part, slammed his helmet into the dirt while lying face-first on the diamond, immediately realizing his mistake. Who knows what his first base coach signaled him.
In the end, nothing went right for CLANGA, especially at the plate. Early tournament hero Elijah MacNamee went quiet in Omaha, after bashing the game-winning walk-off home run in Tallahassee to send the Bulldogs through to the CWS. In the two elimination games with Oregon State, MacNamee logged no hits whatsoever, and that had to have deleterious effects on club morale.
It was an incredibly entertaining run, but Mississippi State ran out of rope.
Mississippi State did cobble together a real rally in the bottom of the ninth in the second game to load the bases, but the nine-to-one turn in their order couldn’t plate enough runs to lift the Bulldogs to victory. It was tense — with long counts and multiple fought-off foul balls — but Oregon State closer Jake Mulholland battled his way through tough at-bats to down the Dawgs after allowing just one run on two innings of work.
Hard stuff for CLANGA fans: Oregon State shut down the Bulldog bats. Bulldog pitching got beat up by the heart of the Beaver lineup, which is formidable. CLANGA played with house money for a touch too long, and they fell off the table against Oregon State. But only just barely.