The College World Series has humbled plenty of All-Americans and first-round draft picks.
Oregon State’s trio of Nick Madrigal, Trevor Larnach and Cadyn Grenier didn’t become those players.
All-tournament selections Grenier and Larnach were the heroes of Wednesday’s come-from-behind win. Madrigal hit .385 while the Beavers fought their way through the losers bracket to the final.
The juniors will go on to pro careers shortly. Second baseman Madrigal, the No. 4 overall pick, will sign with the White Sox. Outfielder Larnach, picked 20th, will soon be with the Twins. And shortstop Grenier, the No. 37 selection, is about to be an Oriole.
But they’ll leave the college game as champions.
“There’s no better way to go out,” Larnach said. “We’ve worked since we’ve been there. There’s been some long hard days on the field and in the weight room.
“But every single bit of that — every game, every practice, every lift — was all worth this moment. To leave this place like this is an indescribable feeling.”
Larnach’s winning two-run homer in the ninth inning Wednesday will be among the top CWS highlights from this day forward. And it was set up by Grenier’s clutch two-out, two-strike RBI single.
The Beavers were down to their final strike on one night and national champions the next.
“We needed every single guy on this team,” Madrigal said. “We never stopped fighting. That was probably one of the greatest comeback in (College) World Series history, and that’ll be there forever.”
Oregon State became the 12th team in CWS history to lose its first game in Omaha then win the title.
Rutschman paces All-CWS team
At the beginning of the College World Series, the best bets from Oregon State to be the most valuable player of the CWS would’ve been one of its first-round draft picks or ace Luke Heimlich.
But it was sophomore catcher Adley Rutschman who stole the show at TD Ameritrade Park.
With three singles in the winner-take-all finale Thursday, Rutschman broke the CWS record for total hits with 17.
In doing so, the second-year backstop also topped the OSU single-season mark with 102.
“What he’s done all seasonlong is very special,” Madrigal said. “He’s probably had one of the greatest seasons ever. It seems like he’s come through in the clutch for us all yearlong.
“For being a sophomore, he performed huge for us. It’s not easy to perform in the postseason, and he did it for us.”
Rutschman led all players at the CWS with 13 RBIs. He drove in a run in six of his seven games.
Oregon State starter Kevin Abel, who pitched a complete-game gem in Thursday’s finale, raved about the play of his battery mate after the victory. That was after Rutschman tackled him after the last out.
“He protected me on the bottom of that pile, and I appreciate him for doing that,” Abel said.
This year’s CWS MVP was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Grenier (shortstop), Larnach (outfield), Tyler Malone (designated hitter) and Abel (pitcher). Arkansas put five players on the team in first baseman Jared Gates, third baseman Casey Martin, pitcher Blaine Knight, and outfielders Dominic Fletcher and Heston Kjerstad. Mississippi State second baseman Hunter Stovall was also selected.
Abel proves himself
Abel’s two-hitter for Oregon State was one of the best CWS finales ever.
It was even more impressive when considering he also got the win for the Beavers the night before.
Abel threw 23 pitches in the eighth inning Wednesday before OSU’s rally in the ninth. The freshman said he thought he could last five or six innings, at most, Thursday.
He then ended up going all nine.
“I can’t believe I went nine innings,” he said. “I’ve never done that on this stage — or at all in college.”
Abel’s CWS was historic.
He was the fourth pitcher in CWS history to throw a shutout in a championship game, and the two hits he allowed were the fewest in any title contest.
The rookie became the first pitcher to win four games in a CWS and also to win two games in a championship series. Abel didn’t allow a run during his finals appearances and had a 0.86 CWS ERA.
“This guy went nine innings, (threw a) complete shutout in the biggest game of the year, and he said he didn’t have his best stuff,” Rutschman said. “I’m just baffled right now.”
Rutschman was first to meet Abel on the mound after the last of his 10 strikeouts ended the CWS.
“I was bracing for impact, that’s for sure,”Abel said. “Adley gave me the biggest, wettest hug I’ve ever had.”