Bulldogs' pen does job again
Mitchell, Holder shut down Beavers amid MSU rally
OMAHA, Neb. -- Mississippi State knew it would take a village of pitchers to win Saturday’s opening game of the College World Series against Oregon State. It did, and the Bulldogs pulled out a 5-4 victory.
Middle reliever Ross Mitchell and closer Jonathan Holder combined for 4.1 scoreless innings of relief, giving the Bulldogs a chance to take the lead in the eighth inning -- and keep it -- to secure the win.
“That's kind of how we've done it,” Mississippi State head coach John Cohen said.
Mitchell improved to 13-0 on the season, scattering three hits and giving up just one walk in 2.2 innings after replacing starter Kendall Graveman in the fifth. A sophomore left-hander, Mitchell is now 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a save in three NCAA tournament appearances this season. Mitchell has appeared in 32 games -- all in relief -- working 88.1 total innings with 44 strikeouts and 27 walks with a 1.31 ERA.
“I would be 12-0 if it weren't for Jonathan Holder right now,” Mitchell said. “I knew that our hitters were going to get us in the game. At the end of the eighth inning, I was praying, 'If it's your will, I want us to win right here.' I was like, 'Let's do it and glorify you,' and God answered my prayers. And our hitters -- Wes [Rea] got a big hit for us and we finished off the game.”
Holder, a sophomore right-hander, picked up his 19th save of the season, improving on his school single-season record. He gave just one hit in 1.2 innings, while striking out three batters. It is the 18th time this season Holder has fanned at least three batters in an outing.
In the ninth inning, Holder faced the top of Oregon State’s batting order as the Bulldogs clung to a one-run lead. OSU’s Tyler Smith led off the inning with a single and then Holder struck out two-hole hitter Andy Peterson. Michael Conforto, who went 4-for-4, worked a walk, but then Holder came back with a huge strikeout of Dylan Davis.
With two on and two out, right fielder Danny Hayes had Bulldog fans holding their collective breath as he ripped a ball to the right-field warning track. Hunter Renfroe caught the ball at the wall as MSU clinched the CWS win.
“Pitching, coming out of the pen was pretty good,” Oregon State third baseman Kavin Keyes said. “That lefty [Mitchell] kept the ball in the zone. Kept it down. That last guy [Holder] looked like he was pretty good. I didn't get to face him. But he handled it pretty well and left that one ball up to Danny that he got but didn't have enough on it.
“Pitching out of the pen is real good,” Conforto said. “You can see by the way they pitched all year and they're very comfortable going to the pen fairly early. And I think the first lefty, he was good. He had that good slider and he threw a lot of strikes. And the last guy was fairly firm and he knew how to get guys out. He's a competitor. He works hard up there. So that's why he's their closer, that's why they go to him.”
It was Holder’s third save of the NCAA postseason. He now has 28 career saves, which is one shy of tying the MSU all-time record held by Van Johnson (1995-98).