CWS Finals: Arkansas-Oregon State after MSU’s Tepid Performance

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Sunday, June 24.

The battle lines are drawn in Omaha for the 2018 College World Series final.  Arkansas, who conquered Florida last Friday night faces Oregon State in a 2 out of 3 playoff starting tomorrow night.

Meantime, the Reds saw their starting pitcher hit a grand slam for the first time since Eisenhower was president and huge American cars had tailfins.

Oregon State should have had a harder struggle with Mississippi State.  the Bulldogs had wiped out North Carolina 12–2 to prepare themselves for Oregon state. The Beavers of OSU had lost early to North Carolina and not looked like a championship contender in their games since. They had managed to beat Washington only because their bats came alive.  Their defense was leaky and their pitching brutal, but 14 runs from the offense bailed them out. When it came down to it, on Friday and Saturday it looked at best at though Mississippi State had run out of gas.  Their Friday night loss 12–2 might be excusable knowing they had a chance on Saturday.  But now Saturday has been and gone with another limp performance by the Bulldogs.  The Beavers’ Tyler Malone launched a 3-run home run to cap a 5-run third inning. The fiasco happened after two were out with none on in the third against starter Ethan Small.  From there the Bulldogs basically sent their bats back to Starkville.  The final was 5-2 but it wasn’t close as OSU pitcher Kevin Abel dominated. He gave but 3 hits in 7 innings, the kind of pitching OSU thought they’d get out of Luke Heimlich.  He could get one last shot of redemption if the series goes to game 3.  Bryce Fehmel has been their other main starter and his results have been little better than Heimlich’s.

The result of their weekend’s labor has the Beavers back in the CWS final for the first time since 2007.  They won back-to-back College World Series in 2006 and 2007.  Arkansas should give them more of a struggle if for no other reason than their main pitcher Blaine Knight is fresh and ready for game 1.  While game 2 is anybody’s guess I would put my nickel down on Isaiah Campbell who won Friday’s game for Arkansas. The Razorbacks haven’t been to the CWS final since 1979, before the present format came into play.  Their last final was a one-game winner-take-all which they lost. This time, Casey Martin slashed 4 hits and Dominic Fletcher unloaded his second home run in two games.  Arkansas KO’d the defending champion Florida.

On the major league level The Dodgers got a shot in the arm as Clayton Kershaw returned from one of his annual stints on the DL, this one 3 weeks in length.  He faced the Mets, a soft target for his first try coming off an injury. In 3 innings he gave up 2 runs and 5 hits as the Dodgers pounded the Mets 8–3. For the Reds, pitcher Anthony DeSclafani became the first Reds’ pitcher in decades to hit a grand slam.  He did it in the third inning of the Reds’ 11-2 destruction of the Cubs. DeSclafani had been 16 of 116 with no home runs before the blast.  The Reds hadn’t had a pitcher hit a four-bagger with the bases full since 1959.  On August 1 of the year Buddy Holly died, knuckleballer Bob Purkey of the Reds launched a grand slam. That was at old Crosley Field which was never the band box where the Reds play now. Both grand slams were in the third inning of their respective game.  The Reds won the 1959 game for Purkey 12–3. Purkey was an All-Star 5 times over, and won 129 against 115 losses while not always playing for the best teams.  He got one shot in the 1961 World Series where the Reds were beaten 4 games to 1 by the Yankees.  His game 3 start was a thing of beauty, with the Reds up 2-1 after 7.  Today a closer might go in to shut the door.  Purkey gave up a home run to Johnny Blanchard to tie the game in the 8th, then another an inning later to Roger Maris and the day was lost.  A year later he would win 23 against just 5 losses, an unimaginable feat considering how pitchers are used today.

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