The College World Series championship series this year is a battle of two power programs as it often is. Arkansas will be playing for just their second championship, and first under Dave Van Horn.
Oregon State is looking to avenge last year’s early exit and finish the job this season. Pat Casey has already won two National Championships. He got to Omaha at 54-4 last year and was unable to get past LSU for a trip to the championship series. This season, with most of the same team back, they have gotten to the championship series.
These two teams have differing philosophies. For the Razorbacks, it’s about offense. They hit a lot of home runs and smack a bunch of hits together. They are led by two freshmen, Casey Martin and Keston Hjerstad. These two are the leading hitters on the team, with Martin bashing 13 home runs, while Hjerstad has hit 14. Hjerstad also leads the Hogs in RBIs.
On the mound, Blaine Knight and Isaiah Campbell are a good 1-2 punch, while Kacey Murphy is a nice third starter. Give the Hogs a lead? Jack Reindl, Barrett Loseke and Matt Cronin will more often than not shut the opposition down. Cronin has tied the single season saves record at 13, with at least two games to go.
For the Beavers, it’s all about experience. Eight of their starting nine are juniors and seniors. The lone sophomore is catcher Adley Rutschman, who is experienced in his own way, having started all but two games his entire career.
On the mound, senior Luke Heimlich and junior Bryce Fehmel also add some big time experience, and the top two relievers Jake Mulholland and Brandon Eisert have been key cogs in the machine during their two seasons on campus. Both earned Collegiate Baseball Freshman All American honors in 2017, and Mulholland also earned Baseball America Freshman All American in 2017. Mulholland has earned 21 saves over two years in Corvallis.
It’s a battle of young vs old, a new environment for Arkansas vs been there, done that for the Oregon State. This should be one heck of a series as Dave Van Horn looks to permanently cement his legacy, and Pat Casey looks to just add to it.
Prediction: Oregon State in 3.