Mississippi State holds on; Indiana stands tall

OMAHA, Neb. — Mississippi State’s Wes Rea went to bat in the eighth inning expecting to see a changeup, and Oregon State pitcher Matt Boyd didn’t disappoint him.

Rea drove the ball into right-center for a two-run double that gave the Bulldogs the lead, and closer Jonathan Holder worked out of trouble twice to secure a 5-4 victory Saturday in the opening game of the College World Series.

“I’m fortunate enough I’ve been up at the plate in these situations and have been able to get it done,” Rea said. “It’s something I take a lot of pride in when there are runners in scoring position.”

The Bulldogs (49-18) advanced to a Monday game against Indiana or Louisville. The Beavers (50-12), the No. 3 national seed, are one loss from elimination.

There still were some anxious moments for the Bulldogs after Rea’s big hit.

Oregon State had two runners on base with one out in the eighth, but Holder got a flyout and struck out pinch-hitter Joey Jansen.

The Beavers had two runners on base with one out again in the ninth after Holder pitched carefully to Michael Conforto and walked him. It wasn’t bad strategy. Conforto had reached base four times.

“I definitely didn’t want Conforto to beat me,” Holder said. “He had been pretty hot early in the game so I was kind of taking a pattern-two kind of mentality to him. I wasn’t going to let him
really get off a good swing and hurt us, so I was all right with the walk and try to get a groundball with the next guy.”

Holder actually struck out the next batter, Dylan Davis, before Danny Hayes drove a ball to right that Hunter Renfroe caught on the warning track to end the game. Hayes threw his helmet to the ground as Renfroe gloved the ball, and the Bulldogs came pouring out of the dugout in celebration.

“Yeah, I think everybody might have had a shaky feeling there,” said Holder, who earned his 19th save.

Renfroe’s hard comebacker off the leg of Boyd (10-4) put runners on first and second in the eighth for the Bulldogs.

Rea then drove Boyd’s first-pitch changeup into the right-center gap. Andy Detz scored easily, and Renfroe beat second baseman Andy Peterson’s relay throw home.

“The swing Wes makes is symbolic of what he’s been doing the last three weeks,” Bulldogs coach John Cohen said. “He’s been crunching the ball, and he’s getting big, big hits for us.”

Ross Mitchell (13-0) pitched 2.2 shutout innings before turning the game over to Holder.

Indiana 2, Louisville 0: Joey DeNato threw a four-hitter and the Hoosiers looked right at home in their first appearance in the College World Series.

The Hoosiers manufactured their runs early, and DeNato (10-2) made them stand up in a masterful performance in front of a TD Ameritrade Park-record crowd of 27,122.

Indiana (49-18) has beaten the Cardinals (51-13) in three of four meetings, shutting them out twice. The Hoosiers will play against Mississippi State on Monday, and the Cardinals will face Oregon State in an elimination game.

DeNato allowed three singles and a double in his second complete game. He struck out eight and walked three.

Louisville starter Cody Green (10-4) left after Indiana loaded the bases with none out in the third inning.

Indiana is the first Big Ten team in the CWS since Michigan in 1984 and gave the conference its first win in Omaha since the Wolverines beat Stanford in 1983.

Indiana has won all six of its NCAA tournament games after failing to get out of regionals in its only other appearances in 1996 and 2009.

Louisville is in Omaha for the second time, and first since 2007, and trying to continue its university’s run of athletic success this year. The football team beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl, its men’s basketball team won the national championship and its women’s basketball team was national runner-up.

DeNato limited Louisville to three singles through seven innings and got a great defensive play from right fielder Will Nolden in the third to keep the shutout going.

Adam Engel doubled down the left-field line with two outs in the Louisville eighth, but DeNato got Cole Sturgeon to ground out to end the threat.

DeNato retired the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 batters — Ty Young, Coco Johnson and Jeff Gardner — to end the game and deny the Cardinals a 10th win in their last at-bat this season.

The Hoosiers had chances to break open the game but couldn’t muster more than RBI singles by Scott Donley in the first and Michael Basil in the third.

Nolden prevented what would have been Louisville’s first run in the third. Nolden came up throwing after picking up Cole Sturgeon’s base hit and nailed Sutton Whiting at the plate to end the inning.

The Hoosiers loaded the bases with none out in the third and scored once, with Louisville left fielder Coco Johnson throwing out Kyle Schwarber at the plate. They had two runners on with one out in the fourth after third baseman Ty Young booted a ball, but reliever Cody Ege struck out Nolden and Schwarber.

The Hoosiers couldn’t score in the seventh after Sam Travis’ swinging-bunt single between two walks loaded the bases with one out. Young made up for his fourth-inning error, scooping up Basil’s sharp grounder, tagging third and throwing to first for the double play.

Nolden made it to third in the ninth but got picked off.

There was a 10-minute delay in the middle of the fourth inning when plate umpire Steve Manders became ill and left the game. Chris Coskey, the second-base umpire, took over behind the plate. Gregory Street, who worked second base in the afternoon game between Mississippi State and Oregon State, took Coskey’s place at second.