Adley Rutschman and the Beaver dugout race toward the impending dog pile after the final out.

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CWS: Day 12 In Pictures

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As Bill Murray’s character in Meatballs said over and over, it just doesn’t matter. 

That’s the mantra that Oregon State seemed to have acquired as well. They lost their first game of the College World Series. It just doesn’t matter. They lost the first game of the championship finals. It just doesn’t matter. They were down to their final strike in game two. It just doesn’t matter. Their fans were outnumbered by a 90-to-10 ratio in Omaha. It just doesn’t matter. Hell, they are a Northern program playing against a team from the mighty SEC. It just doesn’t matter. 

They didn’t care. The Black and Orange just seemed dead set on winning their third national title, Razorbacks be damned… or in the case of the Beavers, “be dammed.” They were going to continue their two-year dominance as the best team in college baseball over the last 730 days and this time put an exclamation point on that with a national title. Done and done.

And that big crowd of Hogs fans? The Beavers must’ve figured out that the best way to play in front of a raucous opposing crowd is to simply give them nothing to cheer about. And other than a pair of hits in the third inning where they left the bases loaded, there was little else to cheer about. In other words, this was a Hog Whallop.

Yes, this game was also one big YAAAAWWWWWNN. And that sounded like sweet music to the ears of the very vocal Beaver Believers. No real action. No drama. Nothing to cheer about.

Freshman Kevin Abel, who came to Omaha with a meager 4-1 record, picked up his CWS-record fourth win of the Series by retiring 20 straight batters to end the game and left zero hope for the throngs of fans from the Natural State, who drove here in hordes hoping to see their Piggies win their first national title in baseball. In the process, Abel also struck out 10 UofA batters and walked just two opposing hitters. Did I mention he tossed a complete-game, two-hitter? Yes TWO.

Freakin’ remarkable.

Not since LSU’s Brett Laxton in 1993 have we seen a freshman pitcher come in and toss a complete game shutout in the championship game. Abel’s name will forever go down in the lore of great Beaver performances, without a doubt. 

The Beavers also become the third straight Pac 12 program to face an SEC team with nearly 90% of the fans in the stadium pulling against them, and winning the national title anyway. They followed the lead of the 2012 Arizona Wildcats, who beat South Carolina in two straight games, and the 2013 UCLA Bruins, who beat Mississippi State in two straight. 

Felt bad for Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn, who was at Nebraska when he took the Cornhuskers to the College World Series for the first time in 2001. He is a beloved figure for those in the state of Nebraska who have not forgotten his contribution to college baseball around these parts. But I did like what he said in the press conference after the game, “We’ll be back and one of these days we’ll win a national championship. I’m confident of that.”

You know what? He’s right. 

But until that day, he’ll have to be happy with being runner up to Pat Casey and Oregon State in 2018. After 13 days, eight games, six elimination games, dozens of pitching changes, five game day double-digit heat indexes and 45 rain delays, the Beavers were finally crowned national champions again.

All those other factors piled against them? It just doesn’t matter.

Here is how tonight looked through the lens… 

The Beaver Pile!

 

The sun shines sweetly on the mound hero for OSU. Kevin Abel was a dynamo for the Beavers tonight, throwing his first complete-game of his young college career.

 

As is their pregame ritual, Grant Gambrell (22) gives Dylan Pearce some serious vertical. Talk about livin’ high on the hog.

 

The Beavers came out looking confident and determined as they took the field before first pitch. Head coach Pat Casey would say afterward, “I thought the pressure was on Arkansas. I felt good about the momentum that we had.”

 

I thought the biggest matchup of the night was going to be between the starting pitchers. And for UofA starter Isaiah Campbell, tonight was NOT a transcendent night like he had vs. Florida. The big righty went just 2.0 innings, giving up three runs on two hits in dropping to 5-7 on the season.

 

Eighteen pitches into the game and they already got the only run they needed. Caden Grenier scampers home in front of the fired-up dugout of OSU in the first inning to put the Beavers ahead for good.

 

This is one bad battery. Kevin Abel and Adley Rutschman will form the best battery in the country next year as both return to Corvallis for another season.

 

Man, did home plate umpire Joe Burleson get hacked off at the Arkansas dugout or what. After several warnings he gave the heave-ho to the director of video and scouting, Zach Barr. Apparently he was chirping about balls and strikes a wee bit too much.

 

… meanwhile OSU catcher Adley Rutschman shared a light moment with Burleson after trying to make a catch against the backstop netting.

 

This was one of the few times that the OSU defense played error-free ball here in Omaha. Third baseman Michael Gretler flings the ball toward first in dramatic fashion. Seemed like every ball they fielded tonight was completely clean.

 

Look ma, with my eyes closed. UofA centerfielder Dominic Fletcher makes a catch in the sunshine of the meadow in the early part of the game.

 

Two-hole hitter Cadyn Grenier went 0-for-2 but did manage to score a pair of runs for the Beavers tonight.

 

The MVP of Omaha. Adley Rutschman hit .567 during the College World Series and also collected seven walks along the way. Here he gets his props for scoring another run.

 

The rush is on. After the final out, Oregon State players spill onto the field to celebrate with their teammates.

 

Of course there has to be an obligatory dejection photo of the Razorbacks dugout I happened to snap as the Beavers were celebrating in the infield.

 

An extreme closeup of Dave Van Horn and Pat Casey about to shake hands after the game was over.

 

Oregon State head coach Pat Casey gets some love from the Beaver Nation after winning the national title.

 

Champions… with Benny (lower right)

 

The Beavers obviously have a huge crush on this trophy they’d been handed after the game.

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