OMAHA, Neb. — Arkansas missed a chance to win the College World Series when a foul pop dropped between three infielders. Oregon State made the Razorbacks pay for it behind one of the best pitching performances in a title game.
Freshman Kevin Abel threw a two-hitter for his record fourth victory in the CWS, and Oregon State — a night after escaping on the ninth-inning, two-out foul ball fiasco, beat Arkansas 5-0 on Thursday night for its third title.
Abel was the fourth pitcher in the CWS’ 71-year history to throw a shutout in a title game, and the first to do it allowing so few hits.
“Kept making pitches, kept getting outs,” Abel said. “I felt better as the game went on and just rode it out. I was going to give it everything I had. I really appreciate they let me go out there. It was a lot of fun.”
He retired the last 20 batters, catching Luke Bonfield looking at strike three on a 3-2 pitch to end it.
Oregon State (55-12-1) capped a two-year run in which it won 111 of 130 games.
“As soon as the last play was made, I just got goose bumps,” Trevor Larnach said. “Came in and ran probably jumped the highest I’ve ever jumped. But that was a jump of joy. Last year left a salty taste in our mouth, and every single person on the team probably remembers that. Ever since then, we were out to finish the job. We sure did finish.”
On Wednesday, Arkansas failed to catch a two-out pop foul in the ninth inning that would have secured its first national title. The Beavers, down to their last strike, rallied to force the winner-take-all Game 3.
“There was probably still that ‘What if?’ and disappointment. It’s human nature,” Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn said about the emotional hangover. “We had a good hitters’ meeting, we let them sleep in, pregame was good. Seemed like they were locked in. But we never got that hit. We never got anything going. Who’s to say? I don’t think we’ll ever know. If Abel hadn’t thrown so well, maybe it’s a little different story, but he didn’t give us a chance.”
Oregon State, which came from behind for three of its six CWS wins, was in control all the way in the winner-take-all Game 3. Arkansas (48-21) was shut out for the first time in 100 games.
Abel (8-1) ran into trouble in the third when Arkansas loaded the bases with one out. He struck out Heston Kjerstad and got Bonfield to fly out to end the inning, and the Razorbacks had no base runners the rest of the night. Abel struck out 10 and walked two in a 129-pitch outing.