Bunting, Bombs, And A Lockdown Bullpen Lead Beavers To A 5-3 Win Over Arkansas In An Insane Ballgame
Oregon State did it twice while they were in Omaha.
They did the unthinkable. The unsettling. The, “What on earth did I just witness?”
It’s something one jokes about during the Creighton baseball season, the proposition of when Ed Servais would have a player bunt with the bases loaded in a close game.
The joke would fade away, the sac bunts with one out would come, but never were we able to gain pleasure from a bases chucked suicide squeeze.
Yet here we are. The biggest stage in college baseball. Oregon State is bunting with the bases loaded.
With the game tied 1-1 in the top of the fifth, the Beavers managed to string together back-to-back one out singles, the latter being a gorgeous bunt base hit that gently rolled to third base. After a walk on four straight pitches, the bases were loaded, and OSU shortstop Cadyn Grenier stepped to the dish.
He took ball one. He took a strike.
Grenier squared to bunt.
When contact was made, the crowd tilted into a relative frenzy, not quite understanding what was going on. The press box seemed to sway, the gasps from new-age baseball writers echoed against the glass windows, the meaning of life suddenly questioned, an existential crisis of extraordinary measures.
It was a slow roller, down the third base line again, the runner from third streaking home. The throw didn’t matter, the runner safe at home, and Oregon State had taken a lead.
It wasn’t Pat Casey’s call. It was all Grenier.
“Yeah, that was my call. And it felt great. It worked perfectly. (Laughter) all I can say about that is learn to bunt, kids. It’s important.”
Had it not been for the Adley Rutschman dongshot in the fourth, Arkansas capitalizing on a Beaver goof up in the outfield that led to two runs in the fifth, and a wild pitch with the bases chucked in the second, that bunt base hit would’ve won the game for the Beavers, sending them to a game three.
Alas, it certainly appeared that it wasn’t meant to be, and the Baseball Gods certainly showed that when Jack Anderson popped up a bunt to the pitcher in the 6th inning when the Beavers had runners on the corners and nobody out, Arkansas reliever Kole Ramage tossing a dart to third to double off a leaning Michael Gretler.
Ultimately, this was a contest of rallies put into an early grave, relievers coming out to pitch before the fifth, defenses faltering, and the absolute burial of the opposing team’s mistakes. Both teams couldn’t quite get that clutch hit to put it out of reach even when runners were left on islands that were seemingly surrounded by lava.
Until the ninth, that is.
Trailing 3-2 and going against one of Arkansas’s best relievers in Matt Cronin, Zak Taylor managed to work a 9-pitch at bat, taxing Cronin, and ultimately worked a walk. Andy Armstrong pinch hit for Preston Jones and everyone in the damn stadium knew he was going to bunt. He made contact with the first one and popped it foul over the net surrounding home plate.
Armstrong then slapped a gorgeous sac bunt down the first base line, getting tagged out in the process, but managed to move pinch runner Zach Clayton to second. A ground out later and Clayton stood at third with two outs and our hero Cadyn Grenier at the dish.
On a 2-2 pitch, Grenier popped up a ball foul. It drifted deep into right field foul territory, with Jared Gates, Carson Shaddy, and Eric Cole giving chase.
“I was just hoping it was going to keep flaring off into the stands. I knew I’d hit it decently deep, so it wasn’t just going to be a routine pop fly to catch.” – Cadyn Grenier
The crowd swelled. As the ball hit its peak in flight, the Arkansas crowd was already popping the cork on the champagne. Falling silent as it began its descent, the ball made a loud *THUD* as it slapped the warning track.
“You know, it’s a tough play. I was running, and didn’t hear anybody call it. So I just kept running trying to make the play and overran it. It’s a tough break.” – Carson Shaddy
Three pitches later, Grenier poked a base hit through the left side, sending Clayton home to tie the game at 3-3.
Trevor Larnach then stepped to the dish and on a low life fastball over the heart of the plate, with a 2-0 count, he deposited the ball into the right field bullpen. It was a laser, the exit velocity likely sitting at around 115mph, the thing got out so quick it was hard to comprehend at the time.
Yet there the Beavers had Game 2, in their pocket, with a 5-3 lead.
Incredible? You bet.
Do they have any pitching left? Absolutely not.
Baseball is fun, huh? Oh God yes.
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