OMAHA, Neb. — A Southeastern Conference team is heading to the College World Series finals for the sixth straight year.
For the first time, it’s Mississippi State.
Hunter Renfroe hit a three-run homer off the back wall of the left-field bullpen, and Kendall Graveman and two relievers held the Beavers in check in a 4-1 victory on Friday.
The Bulldogs (51-18) beat the Beavers (52-13) for the second time in the CWS and get two days off before the best-of-three championship round against UCLA.
Renfroe’s homer came on an afternoon the wind was blowing in at a ballpark that surrenders few home runs. He had already seen teammate Wes Rea come up short with a fly to the left-center power alley that Michael Conforto caught against the wall on perhaps the best defensive play of the CWS.
Renfroe’s 16th homer of the season, and first since May 4, came on a 3-1 pitch from Andrew Moore (14-2) and put the Bulldogs up 4-0 in the fifth. It was only the third homer in 11 CWS games, and there was no doubt it was out, even though Renfroe didn’t initially see it that way.
Oregon State (52-13) went 2-2 in its first CWS appearance since winning back-to-back national titles in 2006-07.
Graveman (7-5) worked the first 5 2-3 innings, allowing one run and four hits. Ross Mitchell and Jonathan Holder finished, with Holder getting the last two outs for his 21st save of the season and school-record 30th of his career.
UCLA 4, North Carolina 1
OMAHA, Neb. — UCLA’s route to the College World Series finals has been nothing if not adventurous.
The Bruins, who have been winning in Omaha despite a scuffling offense, got a two-run double from Pat Valaika to build a cushion, and then record-setting closer David Berg survived a rocky ninth inning to finish a victory over top-seeded North Carolina on Friday night.
The Bruins (47-17) will begin the best-of-three finals Monday against Mississippi State, which eliminated Oregon State with a 4-1 win in the afternoon.
The Tar Heels (59-12) twice loaded the bases in the ninth against Berg but came away with only one run, with the game ending on Landon Lassiter’s flyout to center.
Berg wasn’t his usual dominant self in the Bruins’ first two wins, and he really struggled against the Tar Heels.
The elimination of North Carolina, which set a school record for wins, means the Atlantic Coast Conference will go without a national title in baseball again. The last ACC team to win the championship was Wake Forest in 1955. And the top seed hasn’t won the College World Series since Miami in 1999.