Good time to go yard
Renfroe's three-run dinger sends Miss. St. to first CWS finals
OMAHA, Neb. -- After being a top-15 pick in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft, it’d be tough to imagine that Hunter Renfroe’s stock could go any higher. After Friday afternoon, it just may have.
Renfroe hit a three-run home run into the left-field bullpen in the fifth inning against Oregon State to lead the Bulldogs to a 4-1 victory at TD Ameritrade Park. The win sends MSU and its cowbell-ringing faithful into the CWS championship series beginning Monday night.
“I didn’t think it was going out right away,” Renfroe said of the home run. “I was running out of the box right away, going for a double.
“I kind of hit it off the end of the bat, really, but had enough backspin to hit it out to left field.”
The home run, Renfroe’s 16th of the season, was just the fourth three-run home run hit in the history of TD Ameritrade Park. It also ended a 91-at-bat homerless streak for a player known for the long ball.
“It's a relief,” Renfroe said of ending the dry spell. “We’ve played in a bunch of big ballparks in the last part of the season, between the SEC tournament and here. And you can't ask for more than just line drives and ground balls from players like us, that's what we've been trying to work on lately.
“I just try to hit line drives in the gaps and try to hit ground balls and get runs batted in."
Clearly, the approach has worked for Renfroe, who is riding a 10-game hitting streak. Still, Renfroe’s head coach, John Cohen, was thrilled to get the long ball this time.
“That was a big, big blow in the ballgame. I thought Hunter did a great job, he's so strong, able to flick his hands and the ball left the ballpark.”
Oregon State’s Andrew Moore, the freshman pitcher who gave up the homer, knew what he had done when he threw the pitch.
“Coach [Pat Casey] called a 3-1 curveball, I tried to bury it, because we had a base open,” Moore said. “I made a mistake, left it up a little bit.
“[Renfroe's] a great player, [and he] made me pay for it.”
Wes Rea, who at 6-foot-5 and 272 pounds nearly hit a ball out to left-center field in the second inning, knows exactly what his teammate accomplished.
“It's like if you don't hit it to the left side of the 375 sign [in left-center] you're not going to hit a home run,” Rea said. “Seems like the ball's knocked down no matter how hard you hit it.
“Fortunately, Hunter looked at me hitting mine more toward the gap, he said, ‘I'm going to turn mine more and get one out of the yard.’”
Now, Rea, Renfroe and the Bulldogs get to play in the CWS finals for the first time in school history and have a chance to give Mississippi State its first national title -- in any sport.
These are both facts that Cohen wasn’t fully ready to put his head around just yet Friday.
“For right now I'm thinking about what we're going to do [Saturday] morning to try to get ready,” Cohen said. “I'm not speaking in cliché, I really mean that.
“I guess I'm just not smart enough to put all the things in perspective that people keep wanting to tell me and all of our players,” he said. “And all the support is great, and we love it, but these guys are trained, really, in a very positive way, to just think about what's next.”
And what is next on Saturday for the Bulldogs?
“We're going to work out and we're going to get ready to play on Monday,” Cohen said.