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Oregon State’s late comeback forces a winner-take-all College World Series final game

The Beavers survive for a deciding Game 3.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Arkansas vs Oregon State Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon State took a 4-1 loss on the chin Tuesday night to Arkansas in the College World Series final round, but the Beavers battled hard out of a 3-2 hole on Wednesday night to secure a 5-3 win in Game 2. Trevor Larnach smacked a big bad homer in the top of the ninth to put the Beavs up, and from there, closer Kevin Abel mopped up the Arky side in the bottom of the frame to seal the win.

And with that, the Beavs and Hogs are headed to a deciding Game 3 on Thursday night, which will be tense.

Arkansas got up early, but that didn’t put the OmaHogs in control.

Arkansas drew first blood in the bottom of the second inning, loading the bases with two outs and plating a runner after Oregon State pitcher Bryce Fehmel hurled a wild pitch inside and low to lefty batter Jared Gates. The Razorbacks managed just the one run in the frame though, despite loading the bases a second time on the very next pitch.

Considering that the Hogs won Game 1, 4-1, runs are at a premium for Oregon State in this series, so when Arkansas took the early lead, that potentially spelled havoc for the Beavers, whose bats were virtually silenced on Tuesday. So you can imagine Beaver fans’ delight when big bat cleanup man Adley Rutschman launched a monster dinger into the left field bullpen at TD Ameritrade in the top of the fourth.

That was the first home run of the final round. OSU came back to load the bases in the top of the next frame, which chased Arkansas starter Kacey Murphy. Murphy had up to that point pitched well, though Beaver bats were consistently hitting his offerings deep into the outfield. A one-out bunt from shortstop Cadyn Grenier, then, plated his man from third to draw the score to 2-1 OSU, but Hog reliever Kole Ramage managed to force a double play to end the frame.

Arkansas plated two in the bottom of the fifth, after yet again loading the bases and working counts to move Hogs across the plate. Going into the top of the sixth, Arkansas led 3-2 and Hogs third baseman Casey Martin fielded a routine ground ball and missed his throw to put OSU’s leadoff man on first. Tyler Malone then stepped to the plate and whipped a ground ball through the 6-4 gap to move Michael Gretler over to third, but a funky bunt and tag play to follow led to a spectacular double play in the infield.

The score stayed locked at 3-2 Hogs in a fiery pitchers’ duel among the clubs’ bullpens, until the top of the ninth when Oregon State crossed three runs, the second and third of which came on this massive Trevor Larnach homer to right.

And just like that, the Beavs led 5-3 headed into the bottom of the ninth. And that’s how the night ended, notwithstanding a minor threat from Arkansas’ offense in the bottom of the final frame. They batted into an impressive double play from OSU and now we’re on to Game 3.

This series has featured old school baseball, and it’s great.

The beautiful draw of college baseball is that it consistently harkens back to the sport’s nascent form. Base-running, small-ball hitting, brainless errors, pitching changes and fielding shifts: these all combine for some of the wildest baseball every year. This series is no less different, just like last year’s final round.

What’s different from last year, though, is that we’re staring down a Game 3 situation, just like in 2016 when Coastal Carolina took Arizona to a rubber match and won narrowly. This tilt is wild and unpredictable because it’s been so low scoring. Just 13 runs have been crossed between two games. Just one home run has been hit. Arkansas scored runs in Game 1 on a hit batsman, error, and fielder’s choice. Neither clubhouse is used to this style of baseball, and it makes for quite entertaining ball.

The college boys use all of the field, and this series is proof.