The Mississippi State Bulldogs punched their ticket to the College World Series 2013 final with a pivotal 4-1 victory over the Oregon State Beavers.
The Bulldogs had defeated the Beavers in the opening round of the World Series, 5-4, before beating Indiana twice to book their ticket to the semifinals.
Because they have yet to lose in the tournament's double-elimination format, the Bulldogs weren't facing elimination. But that didn't mean winning wasn't important. They'll now have the opportunity to rest for an extra day while waiting to see if they will play UCLA or North Carolina in the final series.
With the loss, the Oregon State Beavers become the latest team to be eliminated from the tournament.
Here were the biggest takeaways from this game as the Beavers look back on their tournament run and the Bulldogs prepare for the final.
Oregon State's Bats Went Cold
If Oregon State has to pinpoint one reason why it just wasn't quite championship material, it would have to be inconsistency at the plate.
The Beavers started off strong enough. Four runs against Mississippi State in their first tournament game wasn't enough to win, but is still the highest amount of runs that the Bulldogs have given up in the tournament.
Then they caught fire at the plate in the elimination game against Louisville—racking up 11 runs against the Cardinals. But that would prove to be the last of the offensive firepower.
Prior to meeting the Bulldogs for the second time, the Beaver lineup scored just one run against the Hoosiers. Thanks to a shutout performance from Matt Boyd, they managed to survive the offensive drought.
However, this time, one run wouldn't be enough. The Beavers collected eight hits throughout the game but only managed to get one runner across the plate.
Hunter Renfroe's Bat is Still Alive
Mississippi State slugger and 2013 MLB first-round draft choice Hunter Renfroe hasn't been putting up the best power numbers. Thanks to a long ballpark and some heavy wins in Omaha, it's been tough for the big bats of the tournament to go yard.
But Renfroe showed that his power is still alive and well, bashing a three-run dinger in the bottom of the fifth to put the Bulldogs up, 4-0.
According to Matthew Stevens of the Commercial Dispatch, it was Renfroe's first home run since May 4.
That was Hunter Renfroe's first HR since May 4th. It did come with 2 outs too. #CWS— Matthew Stevens (@matthewcstevens) June 21, 2013
With the championship still in the Bulldogs' crosshairs, Renfroe's ability to drive in runs will be crucial going forward.
The Bulldogs Know How to Close Out Games
This game was tooth and nail throughout the early going. Both teams struggled to get any offense going in the first three innings as each team went scoreless. However, a run in the fourth inning and Renfroe's fifth inning blast would give them a 4-0 lead going into the sixth.
From there, history was working against Oregon State. The Bulldogs have lost just one game this season when leading after six innings, per Stevens:
Mississippi State is 40-1 this season when leading after 6 innings of play. #CWS— Matthew Stevens (@matthewcstevens) June 21, 2013
It wasn't easy to lock this one down. The Beavers mounted a ninth-inning comeback with two runners on base and one out in the final inning.
However, Jonathan Holder came in to get the final two outs and the Bulldogs showed their resolve once again. If either North Carolina or UCLA want to deny Mississippi State the national title, they will need to strike early.